Sarkozy under official investigation for “criminal association” in Libyan financing scandal


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                Vendredi, les procureurs français ont placé l'ancien président Nicolas Sarkozy sous enquête officielle pour "association de malfaiteurs" en raison d'allégations selon lesquelles il aurait accepté le financement de la campagne de l'ancien homme fort libyen Mouammar Kadhafi.

                                    <p>Les procureurs enquêtent sur les allégations selon lesquelles l'ancien dirigeant libyen Mouammar Kadhafi a secrètement donné à Sarkozy 50 millions d'euros pour sa campagne présidentielle inaugurale en 2007. Les allégations ont été faites pour la première fois par l'un des fils du défunt dictateur, Saif al-Islam, en 2011.

The new charges of belonging to a criminal conspiracy come on top of the charges laid in 2018 for “passive bribery”, “benefiting from embezzled public funds” and “illegal campaign financing”.

The fact of being placed under “formal investigation” in France indicates that the magistrates found sufficient evidence of wrongdoing for the investigation to proceed, possibly to trial.

The case came under scrutiny in November 2016 when Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he delivered three suitcases full of Libyan cash to the former chief of staff and Sarkozy’s campaign director, Claude Guéant, between 2006 and 2007.

In January, British police arrested French businessman Alexandre Djouhri at Heathrow airport as part of the long-standing investigation into alleged Libyan funding. A spokesperson for the London Metropolitan Police confirmed that Djouhri’s arrest was carried out “under a European arrest warrant” for fraud and money laundering.

Sarkozy has always denied the allegations. Responding to the latest accusations on his Facebook page, Sarkozy said he was “stunned” by the latest accusations, calling them the last step “in a long list of injustices”.

Video: the many legal battles of Nicolas Sarkozy

>> Read more: Gaddafi’s relations haunt Sarkozy in the 2007 campaign financing dossier

The former president had a complex relationship with Gaddafi. Shortly after his election as president, he controversially invited the Libyan leader to Paris for a state visit and greeted him with great honors. But Sarkozy then put France at the forefront of the NATO-led airstrikes against Gaddafi’s troops that helped a mishmash of rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.

The Libyan investigation is just one of many legal inquiries that have harassed the former head of state since leaving office. In 2018, Sarkozy lost an appeal against the decision to take him to court on charges of illegal campaign financing in a case known as the “Bygmalion case”.

The scandal centers on claims that Sarkozy’s party, then known as the UMP (now called Les Républicains), colluded with a friendly PR firm to hide the true cost of his election campaign presidential election of 2012.

France sets limits on campaign spending and it is alleged that the Bygmalion firm billed Sarkozy’s party rather than the campaign, allowing the UMP to spend almost double the amount allowed. The party reportedly told the communications agency to produce false invoices to cover vast overspending during the failed 2012 campaign.




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