Sarkozy under formal probe in 'illegal Bettencourt donations' claim

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 04:10 hrs

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from the country's richest woman.

Sarkozy is accused of 'abuse of someone in an impaired state' in the case involving L'Oreal cosmetics fortune heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who is now 90.

The preliminary charges were issued against Sarkozy after he went through hours of questioning in a Bordeaux courthouse, according to the prosecutor's office.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean the investigating magistrate has reason to believe wrongdoing was committed, but allows more time to investigate, Fox News reports.

The probe centers on the finances of Bettencourt, who was once the focus of a long-running family feud over her fortune.

Bettencourt, who was reported to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, has since been placed under legal protection, the report said.

In November, Sarkozy was given the status of a so-called 'assisting witness,' with the possibility of facing charges later on allegations of abusing someone in an impaired state, swindling and abuse of confidence, it added. (ANI)

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