Last night, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was arrested in connection to a police bust of a large-scale prostitution ring. Included in the list of those arrested is Liliane Bettencourt, who was the center of a scandal involving the Sarkozy government in 2010. At that time, word came out that Bettencourt was making illegal quid-pro-quo payments to government officials; they received bribes in exchange for tax rebates on her assets stored in offshore accounts.
Now it seems as the ties between Sarkozy and Bettencourt run deeper than we could have previously imagined. The latter is now under investigation for financing a prostitution ring which exploited trafficked victims. Early reports are coming in that Bettencourt has provided a safe haven for underground activities, including drug smuggling and money laundering, in her establishments across the country. And surprisingly, the former President is now under fire for not only failing to intervene, but for perhaps contributing to the stability of the prostitution ring.
Said one sex worker who wanted to remain anonymous: “M. Sarkozy a utilisé pour me rendre visite chaque semaine. Il m’aimait. Il se souciait de moi. Il a donné pour moi et mes collègues. Il s’est assuré que nous étions en sécurité et pris en charge. Et il fait en sorte que les enfants des autres filles ont été pris en charge. Nicolas est un homme aimant qui se souciait profondément pour nous.”
A rough translation into English follows: “Mr. Sarkozy used to visit me every week. He loved me. He cared for me. He provided for me and my co-workers. He made sure we were safe and taken care of. And he made sure that the children of the other girls were taken care of. Nicolas is a loving man who cared for us deeply.”
The extent to which other members of his government knew about and supported these crimes is unknown. But a thorough investigation is underway. Details will be reported in real time.