Sarkozy minister and billionaire Bettencourt's wealth advisor stand trial for influence peddling


The trial this week of former minister and conservative UMP party treasurer Eric Woerth, charged alongside the former wealth investment manager of L'Oréal heiress and billionaire Liliane Bettencourt with influence peddling, provides a graphic account of backscratching and favour-mongering in the salons and private clubs of French high society and, more importantly, an unseemly intimacy between the political world and finance. Woerth is accused of arranging for Maistre to receive the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest award of civil merit – in exchange for his hiring of Woerth’s wife as a highly-paid advisor in Bettencourt’s personal wealth investment company Clymène. If found guilty, the two men each face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros. Mediapart has gained access to the document prepared by magistrates summarising the evidence against the pair. Michel Deléan reports.

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The three-day trial in Bordeaux of Eric Woerth and Patrice de Maistre on charges of influence peddling is the second court case to be heard in the vast, so-called ‘Bettencourt Affair’, a story of corruption, fraud and money-laundering involving the entourage of Liliane Bettencourt, the 92-year-old billionaire and heiress of the French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, first revealed by Mediapart in 2010.