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Magistrates in Bordeaux last week ordered that Patrice de Maistre, former wealth manager for L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, should continue to be kept in preventive detention while they continue investigations into his role in a series of massive and mysterious cash withdrawals from the billionaire’s secret Swiss bank accounts. The judges have uncovered further evidence, described by one source close to the case as “solid”, that suggests some of the money was used to illegally fund outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign – which is also suspected of being illegally financed by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lawyers for Maistre complained that he was being kept in jail to “pressure” him into confessing the scam. Michel Deléan reports on the latest developments in the Bettencourt case, now rapidly closing in on Sarkozy, who will hand over office to newly-elected François Hollande on Tuesday.
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