Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy is facing fresh allegations over the financing of his 2007 election campaign just days before France is due to hold the first round of primary elections to select the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.
Sarkozy is running, but French onlinne journal Mediapart has published fresh allegations about businessman Ziad Takieddine and the financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.
Takieddine said he brought money to Sarkozy’s former chief of staff.
Between the end of 2006 and January 2007, Takieddine said he gave two briefcases from Libya to former chief of staff and campaign director Claude Guéant, and a third suitcase to Sarkozy who was then minister of the interior. A total of five million euros is alleged to have been handed over.
“Why and how can a guy like this stand for presidency of the Republic? The French people must react. It will explode,” Takieddine said.
Gueant’s lawyer Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi denied the claims.
“Claude Guéant has always been very clear. He never received from near or far or heard about a centime of money from Libya to support Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign. He has repeated this multiple times to the judicial authorities,” he told Reuters news agency.
France’s public prosecutor opened a judicial investigation into earlier allegations by Takieddine in 2013, but until now, he had never described how the money was transferred or directly pinpointed Sarkozy.
Takieddine said he had given a written deposition to judges on Nov. 12 detailing three cash transfers between 2006-2007 and his meetings with Guéant and Sarkozy.
At no point, he says, did he see the two men ever look inside the cases after he dropped them off at the interior ministry, where Sarkozy was minister at the time.
Libyan officials from the Gaddafi era have previously claimed they helped finance Sarkozy’s election campaign.
Mediapart’s Fabrice Arfi shared his feelings on these new revelations with Euronews.
“I am convinced that the testimony of Ziad Takieddine is an event on the record, even under its judicial prism. In reality, the investigation is not stagnating, the judicial inquiry opened in April 2013. And three years later it has gone from nothing to having accumulated a considerable number of documents and testimonies. In fact what we are discovering and documenting is a potential corruption story that will probably make the Libyan scandal seem like the most serious case that the 5th Republic had to deal with.”
During an interview with Euronews in 2011 Muammar Gaddafi’s second son Saif al Islam launched strong accusations against Sarkozy.
“Sarkozy must return the money that he accepted to finance his electoral campaign,” Saif al Islam said. “We gave him that money and we’re ready to reveal everything about it. The first thing that we ask for from this clown is that he gives money back to the Libyan people.”
Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012 and is seeking nomination as the Republican candidate in next year’s presidential poll, has always denied allegations that he took covert funding from Libya.
The former French leader also has other legal headaches. In September, France’s state prosecutor said he should stand trial over funding irregularities linked to his failed 2012 re-election bid. A magistrate is due to rule whether he does or not later this month.
Sarkozy is polling behind the current favorite for the centre-right’s presidential candidate, former government minister Alain Juppé.