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French weekly magazines review

France is facing its fair share of scandals, if you go by the passionate coverage the weeklies are giving to a string of high-profile scams, which have held the country spellbound for weeks.

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Background reading: Previous French scandals

The amazing life of the disgraced ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac is the cover page story of L’Express. Le Nouvel Observateur leads with the Bernard Tapie affair, while Le Figaro Magazine investigates what it claims is the targeting of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy by those seeking to ruin his political ambitions.

According to Le Figaro, Sarkozy is being hunted down in the high-profile Karachi financing scandal. The case centred on commissions from a 1994 French arms deal with Pakistan, used illegally to fund the presidential campaign of then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.

Monsieur Sarkozy is embroiled in the matter, as he was Balladur’s campaign spokesperson and budget minister at the time. Sarkozy, according to the right-wing magazine, is also facing a probe into allegations that ex-Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi funded his 2007 presidential campaign. In addition, he is up against claims that he extorted campaign funds from France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, when she was too frail to be aware of what was going on. Le Figaro magazine says that Sarkozy is preparing his defence and is determined to fight and redeem his name.

Le Canard Enchaîné wishes the former president good luck in the endeavour, explaining that his closest aide Claude Guéant had vowed not to become a sacrificial lamb. According to the satirical weekly, Guéant, who was secretary general of the Elysée during Sarkozy’s presidency, is feeling lonely and abandoned as he is heckled by judges over a heap of suspected corruption scandals.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

Le Canard reports that the so-called “Cardinal” has been telling everyone he meets that Sarkozy is deep judicial trouble, which could block him from standing in the 2017 presidential elections.

The satirical weekly says Monsieur Guéant told a friend that the secretary general of the Elysée would never have taken an initiative on a matter as serious as the Bernard Tapie affair without consulting the President. 

Guéant, according to the weekly, has heeded advice from friends, urging him not to be to Sarkozy what Alain Juppé was to ex-President Jacques Chirac. Former Prime Minister Juppé, at the time head of Chirac’s cabinet, was sentenced to prison in 2004, in the case of fictitious job contracts signed during Chirac’s tenure as mayor of Paris.

Le Nouvel Observateur says all tracks followed by judges investigating the Tapie affair are leading to Sarkozy’s door. It reports that judicial police on a search mission at Claude Guéant’s home discovered Bernard Tapie’s numbers in his phone, those of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and manuscripts of recent notes he has prepared about the various stages of the affair. This is an indication, according to the weekly, that he is following the matter very closely.

L’Express has an elaborate account of the incredible life of the disgraced ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac. The former minister was forced out of politics for tax fraud and managed to transfer 685,000 euros to a Swiss account, with the complicity of friends from the far-right National Front party.

Cahuzac’s life is a re-enactment of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, says the right-wing magazine. It argues that his foreign bank account would never have become an issue had the plastic surgeon stayed at his job, and had his wife not leaked the hidden fortune when she filed for divorce.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

Le Nouvel Observateur is questioning flight security on Ryanair, after the airline instructed its pilots to limit kerosene consumption. The left-leaning magazine laid hands on office memos grading flight captains in terms of fuel usage.

Le Nouvel Observateur brands the executive order as an absolutely shocking and irresponsible move for a wealthy company worth 4.3 billion euros in the stock markets and making profits of up to 503 million euros every year.

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