Nicolas Sarkozy lost judicial immunity on Saturday, meaning that the former French President might face an investigation or even charges over receiving illegal funds to finance his 2007 campaign.
A panel of judges is investigating whether Sarkozy, who recently lost his reelection bid to now-President Francois Hollande, obtained envelopes stuffed full of cash from Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of the L’Oreal cosmetics giant, and one of the richest women in the world, AFP reported. The news agency cited a French newspaper, which broke the story.
Sarkozy attorney Thierry Herzog said his client will “defend himself against accusations made publicly against him for several months,” according to the news agency. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.
Witnesses, however, claim that he met with Bettencourt several times before his election win in 2007.
Judges may also question Sarkozy on whether he received money from ex-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, even though heads of the National Transitional Council, the rulers of Libya, said the letter containing the evidence was fake, France24 reported.
Professor Philippe Marliere of University College London told the network that Sarkozy “should be worried; it looks pretty damning,” referring to the allegations against him.
“This is only just starting for Sarkozy now,” Marliere added. “It will go on for quite some time.”