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France: Sarkozy probe dropped, but 'Bettencourt affair' rumbles on for UMP


France: Sarkozy probe dropped, but 'Bettencourt affair' rumbles on for UMP

French investigators have dropped their investigation into Nicolas Sarkozy over alleged illicit party funding.

Analysts say it could clear the way for the former French President to launch a bid for re-election in 2017.

Sarkozy had been under investigation following allegations that he had taken advantage of the mental frailty of France’s richest woman, Lilian Bettencourt, to raise secret cash for his 2007 campaign.

The treatment of L’Oreal heiress Bettencourt, 90, is a focus of an investigation into Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party over funding.

Ten people are still reportedly due to stand trial over the case. They are believed to include Eric Woerth, a former UMP treasurer and French Budget Minister.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, remains popular with right-wing voters and is widely expected to launch a political comeback.

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