which has been topping the news for a long time here, is reported like this by the Beeb. I had to wait a while for this, but I thought many of my readers would prefer a report in English. I think the BBC's emphasis is a bit wrong. They focus on the fact (true) that Liliane Bettencourt, the L'Oreal squillionaire, funded Sarko's election campaign and channelled those funds through Eric Woerth, the then budget minister. But Woerth was then and remains treasurer of the party, the UMP, and was treasurer of the Sarko campaign, so who else would receive the money? He is being vilified for accepting money from a party supporter. The French media have got a bit like the UK tabloids over this, but they are not so worried about the money. No, it is more interesting than that. Eric Woerth's wife worked at the time for a company which managed the Bettencourt, ie L'Oreal, finances. Therein lies the conflict of interest, methinks. Also, Bettencourt's daughter is suing the company, or rather its former accountant (not Eric Woerth's wife) for mismanagement of funds; she says the former accountant preyed upon her mother's mental fragility to induce her to give huge sums of money away. Not that the daughter, Francoise, has any personal interest, oh no. Liliane Bettencourt herself, who admits to being 87 years old, has come out fighting and has been giving media interviews lately to demonstrate that she is not at all mentally fragile and is in full possession of her faculties. I must say she convinced me. And she says, rightly, that if she is minded to give money to a political party she supports then why should she not?
In related news, Sarko has just sacked two junior ministers, one of whom for using a private jet at public expense to travel to the Caribbean on government business, and the other for claiming something like 12,000 euros for cigars, only about 4,500 euros' worth of which he says he smoked himself.
The L'Oreal story is like an American soap from the 1980s, hein?