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Sarkozy ex-ally cleared of swindling L'Oreal heiress

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By Euronews
Sarkozy ex-ally cleared of swindling L'Oreal heiress

<p>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.</p> <p>But photographer Francois-Marie Banier was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 350,000 euros.</p> <p>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 <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/world/europe/liliane-bettencourt-loreal-heir-trial.html?smid=nytnow-share&smprod=nytnow&_r=1">Downton Abbey</a>.</p> <p>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. </p> <p>Sarkozy himself was cleared in 2013 of preliminary charges.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en" align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">france is so france <a href="http://t.co/g8tV5djzST">http://t.co/g8tV5djzST</a> <a href="http://t.co/WZaJ9SRdpP">pic.twitter.com/WZaJ9SRdpP</a></p>— Rachel Syme (@rachsyme) <a href="https://twitter.com/rachsyme/status/570988780091543552">February 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>