France scandal timeline

6th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Key stages in the political-financial scandal swirling around French Labour Minister Eric Woerth:

- Early 2007: Nicolas Sarkozy campaigns for the post of French president, which he wins in an election in May.

Eric Woerth, who has long served as treasurer of Sarkozy's UMP party, is in charge of his campaign finances. After his election victory, Sarkozy also appoints Woerth to the post of budget minister.

- December 2007: France's richest woman, L'Oreal tycoon Liliane Bettencourt, is embroiled in a court case arising from a family feud about almost one billion euros in gifts she had made to a male friend.

- March 22, 2010: Making a minor government reshuffle, Sarkozy moves Woerth to the post of labour minister, where he is in charge of pushing forward the government's plans to reform France's pension system. The changes meet major resistance from the trade unions.

- June 16: The news website Mediapart reveals telephone recordings made illegally in the Bettencourt household within the framework of the court case.

Among other allegations, they appear to show that the billionairess has sought to evade French taxes via Swiss bank accounts and that the roles of both Eric Woerth and his wife Florence Woerth, who works for a company managing part of the Bettencourt fortune, may have involved a conflict of interests.

- June 21: Woerth announces that his wife is to resign from her job linked to the Bettencourt fortune.

- July 6: Mediapart quotes Bettencourt's former accountant as saying that in March 2007 she was told to take out 150,000 euros in cash from the bank, a sum which was allegedly given to Woerth in order to finance Sarkozy's election campaign. Both Woerth and Sarkozy's office deny the allegation.

© 2010 AFP

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