Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Arrested Over Gaddafi Campaign Financing [UPDATE]

“Sarkozy has to give back the money he accepted from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We financed his campaign and we have the proof… The first thing we’re demanding is that this clown gives back the money to the Libyan people.”

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi — March 2011

“Sarkozy had a complex relationship with Gaddafi. Soon after becoming the French president, he invited the Libyan leader to France for a state visit and welcomed him with high honours. But Sarkozy then put France in the forefront of Nato-led airstrikes against Gaddafi’s troops that helped rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.”

The Guardian — March 22 2018

March 21 2018 — Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is being held in police custody over campaign financing. In 2013, France opened an investigation into allegations that his campaign had benefited from illicit funds from Gaddafi. Mr Sarkozy’s former ministers and a close ally, Brice Hortefeux, are also being questioned by police. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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UPDATE (March 22 2018) — The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation for illegal campaign financing, accepting bribes and the misappropriation of Libyan state funds over allegations that he received millions of euros in illegal election campaign funding from the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. [GUARDIAN]

On Wednesday, sarkozy was released on bail after two days of questioning in police custody. The investigation is potentially France’s most explosive political financing scandal in decades. Under French law, being put under formal investigation means there is “serious or consistent evidence” that points to probable involvement in a crime.

Another former minister and close ally of Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also questioned by police on Tuesday in relation to the allegations. In January, Alexandre Djouhri, a French businessman suspected by investigators of funnelling money from Gaddafi to finance Sarkozy’s campaign, was arrested in Britain and granted bail after he appeared in a London court.

END of UPDATE

The investigations relates to alleged Libyan funding for his 2007 campaign, Le Monde newspaper reported.

Sarkozy is said to have accepted €50m from Gaddafi’s regime. These claims have been repeated by Saif al-Islam Gaddafithe late Libyan dictator’s son — and French businessman Ziad Takieddine.

In September 2017, I wrote: “One should — of course — be very suspicious of such stories. However, in this particular case, I have a strong feeling that there is some truth to it.” Obviously, I am not the only one to think so.

Mr Sarkozy is being held at Nanterre, near Paris, in an unprecedented step against a former president.

Investigators are trying to find out whether Mr Sarkozy — who was president from 2007 to 2012 — had promised a prestigious role in Monaco to a high-ranking judge, Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for information about an investigation into alleged illegal campaign funding.

A diary of  Shukri Ghanem — Head of the Libyan government (2003-2006) and minister of oil (2006-2011) — contains records relating to a series of payments to the 2007 campaign of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.

A former aide, Alexandre Djouhri, is fighting extradition to France after being arrested in London in January on suspicion of money laundering as part of the case.

So is Mr Sarkozy being prosecuted? The investigation has not reached that stage yet. “Garde à vue” – custody – means he can be held and questioned by police for up to 48 hours. Then he may appear before a judge and may face charges. [BBC]

For the record — In connection with his 2007 campaign, Mr Sarkozy was cleared over claims that he had used secret funding from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and that he had tried to influence investigating magistrates.

Perhaps, this story is just a reminder: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is taken into custody

REFERENCES

Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy ‘arrested over campaign financing’ — Sky News

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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy Arrested Over Gaddafi Campaign Financing

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Arrested Over Gaddafi Campaign Financing [UPDATE]

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