PARIS, March 21 (Xinhua) -- French former president Nicolas Sarkozy was charged with taking financial advantages of the L'Oreal heiress Bennecourt, his lawyer said Thursday night.
The former French leader was accused of accepting illegal financing in support of his 2007 election campaign from the elderly French billionaire Liliane Bennecourt, the heiress of L'Oreal group.
Sarkozy's lawyer denounced the charge as an "incoherent and unfair decision," and expressed the intention to file "an immediate appeal."
The former French president was summoned on Thursday in a courthouse in southwestern Bordeaux for an hours-long confrontation with Pascal Bonnefoy, Bettencourt's former butler, insisting that he only visited once the Bettencourt's home during his election campaign, instead of several times according to several stuff of the billionaire.
Sarkozy was charged with taking advantage of a vulnerable person to get illegal donations as the 90-year-old L'Oreal heiress was in weakness because of illness.
The heiress' ex-account Claire Thibout said in 2010 that she gave envelopes with cash to Bettencourt's fortune manager that was to pass on to Sarkozy's campaign team. Investigators doubt that up to four million euros (about 5.2 million U.S. dollars) was allegedly donated to finance Sarkozy in the campaign.
The French law allows each individual to donate no more than 4,600 euros of campaign contribution.
Sarkozy had been questioned by investigators for the illegal donation case in November.
Lost to Francois Hollande in the 2012 presidential elections, Sarkozy now enjoys no more immunity from prosecution.