Nicolas Sarkozy had a secret meeting with a billionaire backer to illegally ‘ask for money’ just a few months before he was elected as French president, new evidence suggests.
In the latest ‘bombshell’ revelation which could end up in a criminal enquiry, Mr Sarkozy is said to have accepted brown envelopes full of cash from Andre Bettencourt, the late L’Oreal boss.
A diary entry made by Mr Bettencourt’s widow, Liliane Bettencourt, suggests that Mr Sarkozy visited the couple’s mansion in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the upmarket Paris suburb, on February 24th 2007.
This fits in with the testimony of a former driver of the Bettencourts, who has since died, who stated that ‘Mr Sarkozy has come round for a quick appointment with Mr and Mrs Bettencourt to ask for money’.
Other evidence includes a diary entry kept by Francois-Marie Banier, one of Mrs Bettencourt’s closest friends.
Mr Banier wrote in his own dirary that Mr Bettencourt had told him: ‘Sarkozy has asked for money again. I said yes.’
It follows a judge uncovering documents which suggests Mr Sarkozy received at least the equivalent of 670,000 pounds from the Bettencourts.
Half of the money is said to have been handed over in cash to Mr Sarkozy in person after being withdrawn from a ‘secret’ Swiss bank account.
All of this happened just two months before the 2007 presidential election, fuelling suspicions that Mr Sarkozy was illegally on the payroll of the Bettencourts, who are said to have enjoyed tax breaks after he came to office.