Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has lost the confiscated diaries appeal in Bettencourt case.
The Court of Cassation has ruled investigators can retain the seized diaries and rejected Nicolas Sarkozy’s challenge to the seizure.
The diaries were initially confiscated as part of an inquiry into alleged illegal funding during his successful 2007 presidential campaign.
That case has since been dropped, but the diaries may be used in other investigations targeting Nicolas Sarkozy.
The former president, who lost his re-election bid in 2012, is planning a political comeback and correspondents say the drip of allegations has harmed him.
The diaries were seized after claims surfaced in 2010 that Nicolas Sarkozy had taken advantage of 90-year-old L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt when he was standing for president.
Nicolas Sarkozy has lost the confiscated diaries appeal in Bettencourt case
It was alleged that Liliane Bettencourt had given large sums of cash to Nicolas Sarkozy’s aides. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and Liliane Bettencourt denied this. Last October, Nicolas Sarkozy was removed from the list of defendants.
Lawyers for Nicolas Sarkozy argued that confiscating the diaries had been illegal.
But in Tuesday’s ruling, the Court of Cassation decided there was no need to rule on the issue as Nicolas Sarkozy was no longer a suspect in the case.
The ruling comes days after Le Monde newspaper reported that Nicolas Sarkozy had recently had his phone tapped on orders from judges investigating alleged campaign donations from late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The papers said the phone taps had revealed evidence of tampering with the justice system. Nicolas Sarkozy denies the claims.
French media say the diaries could be used in this case, and also in an investigation into allegations that French tycoon Bernard Tapie received a huge payout in 2007 to settle a long-running legal battle with the French state.
The criminal investigation into Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly soliciting secret campaign financing from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt has been dropped, French media say.
France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy has been left off a list of those to appear for trial over the “Bettencourt affair”, Le Monde reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy had denied visiting Liliane Bettencourt – alleged to be mentally frail – to solicit cash.
The decision could leave Nicolas Sarkozy clear to contest the 2017 election.
Nicolas Sarkozy has been left off a list of those to appear for trial over the Bettencourt affair
Although unpopular when he lost his attempt to be re-elected in 2012, opinion polls now suggest Nicolas Sarkozy would beat President Francois Hollande in a re-run.
The possibility of a criminal case against Nicolas Sarkozy has, therefore, gripped the media in France.
Liliane Bettencourt’s butler testified that Nicolas Sarkozy was a regular visitor to her home in the run-up to his first election victory in 2007.
It is alleged that one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s aides made separate visits, picking up envelopes stuffed full of cash.
Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that he only saw Liliane Bettencourt – known as France’s richest woman- once during 2007.
The argument came to a dramatic head in March, when a judge summoned both Nicolas Sarkozy and the butler for a face-to-face encounter, after which preliminary charges were filed against the former president.
Those charges have now been dropped, according to Le Monde newspaper and AFP news agency, which quoted a source close to the investigation.
France’s ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, France’s richest woman.
Nicolas Sarkozy is accused of accepting thousands of euros from Liliane Bettencourt, now aged 90.
The former president denies taking financial advantage of Liliane Bettencourt.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s lawyer said he would file an appeal against the “incoherent and unfair decision”, AFP news agency reports.
Magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil, who leads the inquiry, unexpectedly summoned Nicolas Sarkozy for a face-to-face encounter with Liliane Bettencourt’s butler, Pascal Bonnefoy, in the city of Bordeaux.
The judge wanted to determine how often Nicolas Sarkozy had met Liliane Bettencourt in 2007.
While Nicolas Sarkozy has maintained he only saw her once during that year, Pascal Bonnefoy gave a different account on Thursday.
Following the hearing, prosecutors said Nicolas sarkozy had been placed under formal investigation “for taking advantage of a vulnerable person during 2007 to the detriment of Liliane Bettencourt”.
Under French law the court’s decision falls short of a formal charge.
Investigators will press ahead with the enquiry before deciding whether he should face a trial.
Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt
Nicolas Sarkozy previously hinted that he was considering another tilt at the presidency in 2017. The outcome of the investigation could determine whether he will make a return to politics, observers say.
Police raided Nicolas Sarkozy’s home and offices last July after he lost his presidential immunity.
The former president was declared a material witness in November, which meant he was a suspect but had not been formally charged.
Nicolas Sarkozy met Liliane Bettencourt when he was mayor of the wealthiest suburb in Paris and forged a close friendship with her over the years.
He was a regular visitor to the family mansion, according to her staff.
It is alleged that staff acting for Liliane Bettencourt gave 150,000 euros in cash to Nicolas Sarkozy’s aides during his successful 2007 campaign to become president.
Individual campaign contributions in France are limited to 4,600 euros.
Liliane Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Thibout, has alleged Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign treasurer at the time – Eric Woerth, who later became budget minister – collected the cash in person.
Claire Thibout also revealed in a leaked police interview that Nicolas Sarkozy, while mayor of Neuilly from 1983 to 2002, paid “regular” visits to the Bettencourt house.
But Nicolas Sarkozy has dismissed as mere gossip claims that he took envelopes stuffed with cash.
“[The Bettencourt] never gave me a single penny and I never asked them for any,” he was quoted as saying by the Sud-Ouest newspaper.
Eric Woerth, who was forced to resign as UMP party treasurer in July as a result of the scandal, is already under formal investigation over the 150,000 euro payment allegations.
The allegations surrounding Nicolas Sarkozy and Eric Woerth first surfaced in connection with a trial over Liliane Bettencourt’s estimated 17 billion euro fortune.
Eric Woerth denies any wrongdoing, as does Liliane Bettencourt.
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has topped Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires for a fourth year.
Forbes magazine estimates that Carlos Slim Helu, whose business interests range from telecommunications to construction, is worth $73 billion.
Carlos Slim Helu is followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates on $67 billion.
Famed investor Warren Buffett has dropped back to fourth place, with third spot going to Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Zara fashion chain.
Record profits, and a resulting surge in the share price of the holding company Inditex that he owns, has propelled Amancio Ortega from fifth place, leapfrogging Warren Buffett.
In contrast, the “Sage of Omaha” admitted last week that his Berkshire Hathaway investment company had a “sub-par” year in 2012, underperforming the S&P 500 index of US share prices for only the ninth time in its 48-year history.
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has topped Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires for a fourth year
Warren Buffett, 82, was one of seven over-70s in the 10 wealthiest people on the list, with the average age of the top 10 reaching 74 this year.
Besides Amancio Ortega, another fast riser has been Larry Ellison, the Oracle tycoon, whose software firm has risen 20% on the stock market over the last year.
There have been mixed fortunes in the French luxuries sector. Bernard Arnault, the man behind Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, saw his stock fall last year, dragging him down from fourth spot to 10th.
That put him one place behind 90-year-old L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, whose estimated $30 billion fortune has been put under custody of her daughter after a long legal battle.
The two Koch Brothers, who own a giant US industrial conglomerate and have helped bankroll the radical right-wing Tea Party movement, came in joint sixth place, with $34 billion apiece.
Li Ka-Shing has held onto the eighth position and remains the highest-placed Asian, with $31 billion. The Hong Kong-based owner of Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings is the world’s biggest operator of container terminals.
Walmart heiress Alice Walton has topped the list of female billionaires with a net worth of $29.8 billion.
Her sister-in-law, Christy Walton, is taking third place.
Alice Walton, 62, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, managed to topple Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart off the top spot thanks to Walmart stock trading at a 12 year high.
Christy Walton, 57, who inherited her husband John’s stake in Walmart after he died in a plane crash in 2005, has a worth valued at $28.2 billion, according to the Wealth X list.
In 2007 the Walmart family’s worth was the same amount as the bottom 30% of Americans, according to economist Sylvia Allegretto from the University of California-Berkeley.
Walmart heiress Alice Walton has topped the list of female billionaires with a net worth of $29.8 billion
When she was about ten years old Alice Walton invested in her first piece of art and this interest led to her spearheading the Walton Family Foundation’s involvement in developing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Alice Walton has spent over $300 million building an American art museum in Arkansas with the facilities alone costing more than $100 million. She was briefly married when she was in her twenties.
Champing at Alice Walton’s heels is Gina Reinhart, who is valued at $29.1 billion.
Gina Reinhart, 58, is the daughter of late iron-ore mining magnate Lang Hangcock, who is credited with discovering giant deposits of iron ore in the 1950s that now make up Australia’s largest export base.
Due to commodity prices and successful projects Gina Rinehart’s wealth has grown by an unprecedented $18 billion this year alone.
Gina Reinhart, a widow dubbed “The Iron Lady”, is in the middle of a financial feud with three of her four children over a $18 billion family trust.
Earlier this year an Australian High Court rejected Gina Reinhart’s bid to suppress details of the legal battle.
The fourth richest woman in the world is French L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who has an estimated wealth of at least $24 billion.
Liliane Bettencourt, 89, is the only child of Eugene Schueller, who founded the cosmetics company and died in 1957.
Swedish born Birgit Rausing takes the fifth spot with a net worth of at least $13.8 billion from her shares in packaging giant, Tetra Laval, which was founded by her father-in-law.
Birgit Rausing, 88, is widowed and lives in Switzerland.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy claimed that Britain is a country with “no industry” during a prime time national TV broadcast last night.
However, Nicolas Sarkozy’s claims have been ridiculed as “totally false” by his own Press.
Nicolas Sarkozy made the extraordinary outburst as he defended a VAT rise during a prime time national TV broadcast last night.
French president had just announced a 1.6% hike in VAT in a move designed to boost France’s failing economy.
When a journalist pointed out that Britain had experienced a rise in prices after increasing its VAT contributions, Nicolas Sarkozy spat out the words: “The United Kingdom has no industry anymore.”
Experts across the Channel today pointed out that industry accounts for almost 17% of GDP in Britain – compared with just over 14% in France.
It was newspaper Le Monde that branded Nicolas Sarkozy’s claim “totally false”, pointing out that “Britain is actually more industrialized than France”.
Le Monde admitted that “industrial decline is stronger in our country”, adding: “In 2007, industry accounted for 16.7% of GDP against 14.1% for France: a statistic that did not change in 2011.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy claimed that Britain is a country with “no industry” during a prime time national TV broadcast last night
According to figures produced by INSEE, France’s national statistics and economic studies institute, industrial production in Britain is almost 5% higher than it is in France.
And separate figures from the OECD show that in 2009, Industry accounted for 19% of French Gross Value Added – a measure of the value of goods and services linked to GDP.
In 2010, in the UK the figure was 21.8%. In manufacturing alone, the UK figure stood at 11.5% compared with 10.7% in France.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who is hoping to be re-elected in the spring, is cutting an increasingly desperate figure as he fights to hold on to power.
He said he was borrowing the VAT measure from Germany, arguing that it had “helped to boost German competitiveness” and had not led to a rise in prices.
But in 2009 Nicolas Sarkozy claimed a similar VAT rise in the UK had “absolutely failed” to stimulate the economy.
The 11th-hour measures are a risky political gamble as the hugely unpopular Nicolas Sarkozy lags behind Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls.
Opinion polls also suggest the majority of the population is against an increase in sales tax, which will eat into their spending power.
It is not the first time Nicolas Sarkozy, who came face-to-face with Prime Minister David Cameron at an EU debt summit today, has expressed his dislike of his cross-Channel neighbors.
In October at an EU-27 summit, after criticism from UK ministers over the euro, Nicolas Sarkozy bluntly told David Cameron: “You have lost a good opportunity to shut up.”
He added: “We are sick of you criticizing us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings.”
A month later, in response to a question at a press conference about whether France and Germany were trying to change the governments of Greece and Italy, Nicolas Sarkozy hit out, saying: “Perhaps the fact that you come from an island, you can’t understand the subtleties of the European construction.”
And today’s meeting – where EU leaders will sign off on a permanent rescue fund for the eurozone – could potentially herald a repeat of “Le Snub”, when the French leader refused to shake David Cameron’s hand after the Prime Minister vetoed proposed changes to the EU treaty in December.
Nicolas Sarkozy was not questioned on the latest comments by any of the carefully selected journalists assisting with the broadcast from the Elysee Palace.
Despite Nicolas Sarkozy’s previous view on such measures in the UK last night he saw the VAT rise as an essential measure to reverse his country’s fortunes, as he praised Angela Merkel for applying it.
It came as the German Chancellor offered “active support” at campaign rallies for Nicolas Sarkozy, who is widely expected to fail in his re-election bid.
A “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions was also imposed by Nicolas Sarkozy last night – despite fierce opposition from EU leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron who described it as “utter madness”.
The 0.1% financial transaction levy will be introduced in August in France regardless of whether other European countries follow suit.
The tax is part of a package of measures set out by the president to promote growth and create jobs.
French and German proposals for the EU-wide financial transaction tax were among the reasons that British PM David Cameron vetoed EU treaty changes at a summit in Brussels in December.
The tax is intended to dissuade speculators from making very short-term investments in foreign exchange.
David Cameron argued that the so-called “Tobin Tax” – named after American economist James Tobin – would penalize the City of London, where 75% of European financial transactions take place.
Earlier this month, PM David Cameron vowed to wield a second veto in Europe if France and Germany insist on pushing ahead with the EU-wide tax.
“With tax on financial transactions, we are going to show an example,” said Nicolas Sarkozy last night, as he outlined the tough new measures in the hour-long broadcast, which was shown by eight channels.
While officially a presidential address, Nicolas Sarkozy made it clear that all of his attention is on the two-round presidential election to be held in April and May.
But he remains unpopular among voters. Not only are some 3 million people currently unemployed in France, but the country lost its triple-A credit rating from Standard and Poor’s earlier this month.
Before this happened, Nicolas Sarkozy had said that such a downgrade would hamper his election chances enormously, saying: “If we lose the triple-A, I’m dead.”
After the downgrade, Nicolas Sarkozy told aides: “For the first time in my life I am facing the end of my career.”
The decline of Nicolas Sarkozy, a right-wing conservative, is seen as Francois Hollande’s greatest asset, and last week the Socialist candidate launched an impassioned attack on “the world of finance”.
Francois Hollande, who was nominated to be the Socialist Party and Left Radical Party candidate in the 2012 French presidential election, has promised huge tax rises, some 23 billion euros in new spending by 2017, and 150,000 state-subsidized new jobs for young workers, as well as 60,000 new teaching jobs.
But Angela Merkel on Saturday pledged to support Nicolas Sarkozy on the campaign trail, because she apparently doubts Francois Hollande’s ability to solve the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have built up such a strong working relationship that they are referred to as “Merkozy”.
The latest opinion poll published this weekend suggested Francois Hollande would take 56% of votes in the second round of the election, with Nicolas Sarkozy on 44%.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who turned 57 on Saturday, has been involved in numerous scandals since coming to power in 2007.
Magistrates are currently looking at allegations that Nicolas Sarkozy and other senior members of the ruling UMP party received envelopes stuffed full of cash from Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman, in return for future tax breaks.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s third wife, the former supermodel Carla Bruni, has also been accused of enriching close friends in Paris through her charity work.
Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oreal heiress announced today she wants to emigrate after a judge ruled that she was “mentally unfit” to manage her over $20 billion fortune.
Liliane Bettencourt, 88, the France’s richest woman who inherited the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune, was told that she had dementia and Alzheimer’s and is no longer mentally fit to run her business affairs.
The L’Oreal heiress said she was fine, and accused her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers of plotting against her to try and wrestle control of the company.
Liliane Bettencourt, 88, the France's richest woman who inherited the L'Oreal cosmetics fortune, was told that she had dementia and Alzheimer's and is no longer mentally fit to run her business affairs
Liliane Bettencourt, who turns 89 on Friday, is also suspicious of France’s judicial authorities who are investigating her for allegedly giving brown envelopes full of cash to leading politicians in return for tax breaks.
Among the politicians involved is said to be President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was once a regular visitor to Liliane Bettencourt household in Neuilly, the upmarket Paris suburb.
In a court in Courbevoie, Judge Stephanie Kass-Danno granted the controversial ruling following a petition by Francoise Bettencourt- Meyers.
Francoise Bettencourt- Meyers, 58, had argued that Liliane Bettencourt was being negatively influenced by members of her “entourage” to whom she kept handing out money.
Just before the judge’s decision, Liliane Bettencourt said: “If my daughter wins I will go abroad.”
Liliane Bettencourt also said that having her money put under the control of a daughter to whom she seldom speaks would be a “nightmare”.
The L’Oreal heiress also objected to another part of the ruling that states that she herself will be under the “guardianship” of her grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers.
The Bettencourt family war started in 2007, when Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers accused a photographer called Francois-Marie Banier of taking advantage of Liliane Bettencourt’s condition by persuading her to give him around $1.5 billion worth of artworks, insurance policies and cash.
The family war then turned into a political scandal after it was alleged that Liliane Bettencourt had effectively “bought” tax breaks from politicians like President Nicolas Sarkozy.
At that moment, a judicial enquiry has been opened into the so-called Bettencourt Affair, but it is unlikely to conclude before next year’s presidential elections.
According to Jean-Rene Farthouat, Liliane Bettencourt’s lawyer, today’s ruling was “contrary to good sense” and there would be an appeal.
Liliane Bettencourt is the daughter of Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal.
Bettencourt family owns a 31% stake in the company, worth over $20 billion.
Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers reassured investors that the decision to put Liliane Bettencourt under guardianship would not affect the company in any way.
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