Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a new charge in an investigation into allegations he financed his successful 2007 campaign with cash provided by the regime of former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Prosecutors today indicted Sarkozy, 65, of “belonging to a criminal conspiracy”, adding to existing 2018 charges of “passive bribery”, “profit from embezzled public funds” and “illegal campaign financing” .
Prosecutors are investigating whether Sarkozy’s presidential campaign was funded by Gaddafi, whom the French leader controversially invited on a state visit after Sarkozy’s election in 2007. The Libyan dictator was later overthrown and killed in 2011 following a NATO-backed uprising that France helped lead.
French law requires “serious or consistent evidence” before placing a person under formal investigation. Last month, a Paris appeals court dismissed Sarkozy’s appeal, paving the way for his trial.
Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, has long denied taking money from the assassinated Libyan leader. He wrote on his Facebook page today that “the truth will triumph in the end.”
The long-standing investigation stems from allegations by Gaddafi’s son in 2011. In an interview with Euronews TV, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said he had proof of bank transfers to Sarkozy and demanded that the former president French gives the money to the “gens.” “
The following year, French investigative media Mediapart published documents that appeared to detail the regime’s approval of a € 50 million transaction.
The accusations gained more weight in 2016 when Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he personally facilitated money transfers between Tripoli and Paris, delivering three suitcases in cash to the campaign manager of Sarkozy in 2006 and 2007.
The investigation into Libya is one of the many legal issues facing the former French president. Sarkozy is under investigation for influence peddling, as well as accusations that he used bogus invoices to hide that his failed 2012 campaign exceeded legal spending limits.
This story contains reports from Agence France-Presse.