Ex-French budget minister probed on award-job swap

February 8, 2012 - 7:45 PM

PARIS (AP) — Three investigating judges have filed preliminary charges against former Labor Minister Eric Woerth for "passive influence peddling" after becaming ensnared in a scandal involving the fortunes of the L'Oreal heiress.

Woerth is suspected of obtaining the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, for the man who managed the fortunes of Liliane Bettencourt. That gesture was allegedly in return for getting his wife hired by a company seeing to her holdings.

Woerth denies any wrongdoing.

He was forced to step down in 2010 after being linked to a larger probe into the suspected hidden financing of President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 campaign — which also connected to Bettencourt's fortune.