MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under investigation over claims that he took advantage of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt in 2007 and accepted illegal campaign donations from her, the Guardian reported.
“Nicolas Sarkozy, who benefits from the presumption of innocence, had been notified that he has been placed under formal investigation for taking advantage of a vulnerable person in February 2007 and during 2007 to the detriment of Liliane Bettencourt,” the Guardian quoted the prosecutor in Bordeaux as saying in a statement.
Formal investigation is only a step shorter from getting formal charges, according to French law.
Sarkozy, who lost last year's election to Socialist François Hollande, has repeatedly denied that he received donations from 90-year-old Bettencourt, France's richest woman, for his 2007 election campaign.
If found guilty, Sarkozy, 57, could face a maximum of three years in jail and a weighty fine, but the damage could be by far worse as the former president hinted earlier this month that he could make a political comeback.
Updated changing headline, correcting spelling to Nicolas
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