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Sarkozy ex-ally cleared of swindling L'Oreal heiress


France

Sarkozy ex-ally cleared of swindling L'Oreal heiress

A French court has cleared a former ally of Nicolas Sarkozy on charges of swindling millions of euros from France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, by taking advantage of her mental state.

But photographer Francois-Marie Banier was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 350,000 euros.

Banier was found guilty of manipulating the heiress into giving him cash and artwork worth millions of euros in a courtroom drama which has been described as a “French version of Downton Abbey.

The ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s former budget minister, Eric Woerth, has been cleared on the charge of “abuse of weakness” and taking donations from Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential election campaign.

Sarkozy himself was cleared in 2013 of preliminary charges.

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