Preliminary probe into Sarkozy discount on flat

19th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 September2007, PARIS (AFP) - A French prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into conditions that allowed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to be given a discount of at least 300,000 euros on the 1997 purchase of a flat, judicial officials said Tuesday.

19 September2007

PARIS (AFP) - A French prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into conditions that allowed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to be given a discount of at least 300,000 euros on the 1997 purchase of a flat, judicial officials said Tuesday.

The flat was in the affluent Paris suburb of Neuilly, of which Sarkozy was mayor at the time.

Confirming a report by the Canard Enchaine satirical weekly, which broke the story before Sarkozy was elected president in May, officials said the probe had been opened before the summer but did not give an exact date.

"The case is being handled by the state prosecutor in (the Paris suburb of) Nanterre. He has not yet taken a decision" on how to pursue the investigation," the source added.

Questioned by AFP, Sarkozy's spokesman David Martinon said that his office would not comment on the latest development.

The prosecutor can eventually close the case or open a formal judicial investigation, the source said.

French property developer Lasserre reportedly knocked 12 to 35 percent off the market price of the flat, which Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia bought for the equivalent of 875,000 euros (1.2 million dollars).

Lasserre, described by the Canard Enchaine as the former mayor's "favourite developer", also reportedly agreed to pay for expensive redecoration and refurbishment works before the couple moved in.

Speaking during a visit to Madrid in February, Sarkozy had rejected the claims as "hurtful and extravagant", denouncing an attempt to "smear" his name ahead of the April-May election.

The paper based its report on sales documents for apartments in the same building, also sold in 1997.

It claimed that the Sarkozy couple -- who sold the flat last November for close to 1.9 million euros -- saved a total of around 300,000 euros at the time of its purchase.

Sarkozy, who was mayor of Neuilly from 1983 to 2002, has been repeatedly criticised for failing to enforce the quota of 20 percent of social housing in the town.

AFP

Subject: French news

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