Sarkozy Refuses to Testify as BPCE Chairman Goes on Trial

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will not testify in the conflict-of-interest trial of Groupe BPCE Executive Chairman Francois Perol, the presiding judge said as the proceedings got under way in a Paris courtroom.

Judge Peimane Ghaleh-Marzban read out a letter in which Sarkozy invoked his constitutional immunity as former head of state in refusing to appear as a witness. France’s central bank chief, Christian Noyer, is scheduled to testify Thursday, the court heard as the trial began Monday.

Perol, 51, who took over in 2009 at BPCE, is accused of violating a law prohibiting government officials from taking private-sector jobs in areas they oversaw. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros.

Perol was Sarkozy’s top economic adviser and deputy chief of staff from 2007 to early 2009, when the government propped up banks including customer-owned lenders Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne. The government encouraged the combination of these two lenders to create BPCE and stem losses at Natixis SA, their common investment-banking division.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE