Former French president Sarkozy in spotlight over ex-wife's parliamentary job

·2 min read

The ex-wife of former president Nicolas Sarkozy was paid as a parliamentary assistant in 2002, according to a media report, but may not have done any work to justify her monthly 3,100 euro salary.

The weekly newspaper Le Canard enchaîné revealed Wednesday that Cécilia Sarkozy, as she was called at the time, was employed as an assistant to Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud, who took over Sarkozy's parliamentary post in 2002 when he became interior minister.

Cécilia took home nearly 3,100 euros a month for the part-time job, working 75,84 hours a month, the report said, citing payslips.

And yet, "not an article, no report, not one of the many books devoted to the former first lady mentions her work as a parliamentary assistant," the weekly reports.

Source denies wrongdoing

A source close to Sarkozy denied the allegations, which echo those made in 2017 against Pénélope Fillon, the wife of former prime minister François Fillon.

This source confirmed that Cécilia Sarkozy was employed as an assistant to his parliamentary replacement in 2002-2003, but said that her role in her husband's political career was a "matter of public knowledge".

She was known to have a position advising Sarkozy at the interior ministry and worked on his successful presidential campaign in 2007.

But the report quoted Cécilia telling a TV interviewer in 2002: "I am not paid, the work I do with my husband is voluntary".

Cécilia and Nicolas Sarkozy divorced in October 2007, shortly after he became president, and she married advertising executive Richard Attias.

Since leaving office after a single term as president from 2007 to 2012, Sarkozy has been embroiled in investigations into illegal campaign financing, attempts to influence the judiciary, and taking money from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi. He denies all the allegations.

Penelopegate in 2017

The Canard enchaîné also revealed Penelope Fillon's fake parliamentary job, a few months before the last presidential election in 2017.

It revealed that long-time Sarkozy ally Fillon had employed his wife as his parliamentary assistant from 1998 to 2013 without her carrying out duties to justify her salary.

The couple were convicted in June for misusing public funds and handed prison sentences, which they have appealed.

At the time of the scandal in 2017, Fillon and his allies sought to justify his wife's job by saying such practices were common within parliament at the time.

(with AFP)