The judge carrying out the high-profile investigation into the Bettencourt affair involving France's wealthiest woman, allegations of financial abuse and claims of political corruption at the highest levels, has ordered three allies of former President Nicolas Sarkozy to be questioned as witnesses. Judge Jean-Michel Gentil, who is said to be close to completing his mammoth task, is examining whether L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt's mental frailty was taken advantage of by those around her. But the publicity-shy judge is also investigating claims that the billionaire’s money was illegally used to fund Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. There are also allegations that the Elysée Palace tried to stop a proper investigation into the affair and that France's domestic spy chief himself became involved. As Michel Deléan reports, the judge is leaving no stone unturned in his inquiries.
Probe comes after Arafat's family launched legal action in France over claims the late Palestinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning.
Investigation targets L'Oréal heiress Bettencourt's 'protector' over 143mln-euro deal she can't remember
Magistrates investigating a suspected gigantic web of corruption spun around the financial affairs of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt on Wednesday placed a lawyer in charge of her wealth investments under formal investigation for taking advantage of the 89 year-old matriarch’s diminished mental faculties. Pascal Wilhelm, appointed as a legal protector of Bettencourt’s financial interests, is the second of her wealth managers to be suspected of corruption. The case notably involves an investment he organised of 143 million euros of the matriarch’s private fortune in a company owned by reality TV show and online gambling entrepreneur Stéphane Courbit, which Bettencourt cannot remember making. Michel Deléan reports.
The role of the authorities in hunting the gunman who carried out the atrocities in Toulouse and Montauban in south-west France has come under the microscope since the main suspect was shot dead in a siege at his flat. Questions have been raised about how long it took to locate Mohamed Merah after the first attack, and to what extent the French intelligence agency had been monitoring him before the murders took place. Michel Deléan reports.
France's biggest listed bank, BNP Paribas, and largest in Europe, is set to be placed under formal investigation – one step short of charges being brought - in connection with suspected fraudulent handling of clients' investments in funds that channelled money to US fraudster Bernard Madoff, judicial sources have told Mediapart. A ruling by the Paris appeal court's investigatory chamber found that "Bernard Madoff's own responsibility does not rule out the possibility of fraudulent behaviour by intermediaries such as the BNP." The court cited documents from the US liquidator of the Madoff group, concluding that “it now seems that the bank received millions of dollars in exchange for services that were never provided and while it was in possession of information […] which should have prompted it to investigate BLMIS [Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities]". The ruling has relaunched an investigation that now threatens the bank with major legal consequences. Laurent Mauduit reports.