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Will Sarkozy probe hurt France?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 - 02:24

Another political scandal in France - this time involving the man many saw as the one person who can bring stability back to a weak economy. As Joanna Partridge reports, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy denies any wrong-doing in relation to his 2007 election campaign.

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He's been tipped as the man to return economic stability to France - but now Nicolas Sarkozy is under formal investigation. The former president spent 18 hours being questioned by police and judges. Among the allegations - using his influence to prevent an investigation into his 2007 election campaign. One involves indirect exploitation of Liliane Bettencourt - the frail L'Oreal heiress and France's richest woman, who donated funds to his conservative UMP party. Pierre Briancon is from Reuters Breakingviews. SOUNDBITE: Pierre Briancon, European Editor, Breakingviews, saying (English): "He has another case about his campaign finances, he has another about possible, alleged charges with Libyan money funding him. So a lot of things he has to clear up. The main question is what it does to the French political system." It's the second time Sarkozy has been questioned about one of the cases since he lost immunity from prosecution shortly after leaving office in 2012. The French Prime Minister has dismissed accusations of a plot. But the timing has raised questions. President Francois Hollande is particularly unpopular and a Sarkozy return to power has been seen as a possibility. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PASSER-BY CATHERINE MINUTTI SAYING: "It's true it's perhaps a little political, that we don't know, is it to prevent Sarkozy running in 2017? Clearly you could ask yourself that question. If it is political, it's scandalous." (SOUNDBITE) (French) PASSER-BY DOMINIQUE MAILLARD SAYING: "It makes me laugh, because this is the man, who was going to revolutionise France, going to reform it so that there would be no injustice - it's a shame for him." France is no stranger to political scandals. But with the economy struggling Rabobank's Jane Foley says they could do without political uncertainty as well. SOUNDBITE: Jane Foley, senior currency strategist, Rabobank, saying (English): "If the investigation into Sarkozy now diminishes the likelihood that he could come back the markets could be disappointed, the markets of course want to see someone at the helm of France who could potentially be more predisposed towards market economy, towards more structural reforms." Sarkozy denies all wrong-doing and a trial isn't a certainty. But once magistrates are involved that is often the outcome. And there's nothing trivial about the offences - should he end up being charged. Influence peddling carries a five-year maximum prison term while active corruption can mean 10 years in jail.

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Will Sarkozy probe hurt France?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 - 02:24