The allegations of corruption date back to the 2007 presidential election. However, as president, Sarkozy had legal immunity, which did not expire until June 16. The examining magistrate, judge Jean-Michel Gentil, is attempting to ascertain whether 800,000 euros in illegal funding was donated to Sarkozy's campaign. The funding is believed to have come from the fortune of Liliane Bettencourt, who suffers from dementia. She is France's richest woman.
Hierry Herzog, Sarkozy's lawyer, claimed the searches would not show any wrong-doing. He stated
These raids ... will as expected prove futile.
Herzog also asserted that Sarkozy's diary demonstrated that it was impossible for the former president to have been involved.
However, Claire Thibout, Ms Bettencourt's former accountant, claims
Eric Woerth, who was Sarkozy's campaign treasurer, and subsequently a minister in his government, collected the cash in person. Mr Woerth was forced to resign in 2010 and is currently under criminal investigation.
In addition, other witnesses say that Sarkozy visited Ms Bettencourt's home repeatedly in 2007. There is also an entry in the diary of François-Marie Banier, a friend of Ms Bettencourt, stating
that Sarkozy had requested money, which she had agreed to donate.
Former president Sarkozy has also been potentially linked to a number of other outstanding criminal investigations. According to Le Parisien
, Mr Sarkozy told friends:
I know they’ll come looking for me.
He is said to have added that nothing would come of it.