Sarkozy Home and Office Searched in Campaign-Finance Inquiry

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s home and his Paris office were searched today by police in an investigation into allegations of campaign finance violations, according to his lawyer.

Police, led by Judge Jean-Michel Gentil, went to the home Sarkozy shares with wife Carla Bruni and the office he was given as a former head of state, according to a statement to Agence France-Presse by his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. The probe is part of an investigation into claims that cash from Liliane Bettencourt illegally funded his 2007 election campaign.

“All of the necessary pieces of information” from 2007 were sent by Sarkozy to Gentil two weeks ago, making the searches “pointless,” according to the statement. The evidence submitted demonstrated “the absolute impossibility of the claimed secret rendezvous with Madame Liliane Bettencourt,” AFP cited his statement as saying.

Sarkozy and his family left for holiday in Canada yesterday, according to Herzog.

France Inter previously reported on its website that a search also took place at Sarkozy’s law offices today. Herzog didn’t confirm that search in the statement. AFP cited an unnamed source saying nothing was seized during the searches.

Calls for comment to the prosecutors in Bordeaux, Sarkozy’s office, and Herzog weren’t immediately returned.

Multiple Investigations

There are multiple investigations in progress related to L’Oreal SA (OR) heiress Bettencourt. Judges in Bordeaux are looking into claims the 89-year-old, now a court-ordered ward of her family, was manipulated by members of her entourage into giving away cash, art, real estate and other property.

Those inquiries have spawned related probes into influence peddling and corruption. Bettencourt’s former financial adviser and the treasurer of Sarkozy’s party during the campaign have been charged in the probes. Both men deny the allegations.

Sarkozy has denied getting illegal campaign contributions, saying on April 3 on Canal Plus television channel that “there’s not a penny whose origin is unaccounted for.”

He acknowledged knowing Bettencourt and her family, saying they were long-time residents of his town of Neuilly and “of course” he’s met them, adding “what’s the problem?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root in Paris at vroot@bloomberg.net

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