By Henry Samuel, Paris, The Telegraph – May 9 2012
Nicolas Sarkozy could soon be called for questioning, either as a witness or potentially as a suspect, in several corruption cases when he loses presidential immunity a month after leaving office on May 15.
The Right-winger, who lost his re-election bid to Socialist François Hollande on Sunday, held his last cabinet meeting on Wednesday – said to be an “emotional” affair in which he urged colleagues not to be “sad or bitter”.
Telling aides he intends to retire from front line politics, Mr Sarkozy let them know he was preparing to return to his former life as a lawyer at the Paris firm he still partly owns, after taking a break with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and their baby daughter.
But the outgoing president could soon be called for questioning – either as a witness or potentially as a suspect – in several corruption cases when he loses presidential immunity a month after leaving office on May 15.
Judges are likely to want to summon him over an investigation into who ordered French intelligence to unlawfully seek to uncover the source of journalists working for Le Monde. France’s intelligence chief is currently under investigation over the affair in which Le Monde exposed embarrassing links between Mr Sarkozy’s government and Liliane Bettencourt, the l’Oréal billionaire caught up in a tax evasion and illegal party financing inquiry.
Mr Sarkozy is suspected of benefiting from brown envelopes of cash to help fund his 2007 campaign from Mrs Bettencourt and her late husband, André, whose former bookkeeper has told judges she withdrew 150,000 euros earmarked for Mr Sarkozy’s then campaign treasurer. He also faces questioning over allegations he personally accepted cash from the Bettencourts during a visit shortly before his 2007 election. Mr Sarkozy denies wrongdoing on all accounts.
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