Four months ahead of presidential elections, France’s Nicholas Sarkozy has found himself in the middle of a corruption scandal.
French newspaper Liberation reports new allegations relating to a shell company that, it’s claimed, was set up to pay kickbacks during arms sales to Pakistan.
The paper quotes court testimony from a former senior civil servant who claims Sarkozy, who was then budget minister, allegedly authorised the set up of the Luxembourg-based firm Heine in 1994. The ex-head of the agency in charge of naval exports says the decision could have only been taken at the level of the minister’s personal staff.
The shell company is also suspected of being used to illegally fund then-prime minister Edouard Balladur’s unsuccessful 1995 presidential election campaign. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the affair.
The case, which has been nicknamed “L’Affaire Karachi” has seen two of Sarkozy’s closest friends charged in connection with arms deal kickbacks.