Sarkozy in police custody over 'alleged' campaign financing by Gaddafi

Frederick Owens
March 21, 2018

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is being held for questioning by police in an investigation into suspected irregularities over his election campaign financing, Euronews reported.

Prosecutors have not released a statement.

The French newspaper of record also alleges that records held by the former Libyan oil minister Choukri Ghanem, recovered by the French justice department, also mention the existence of payments to Sarkozy.

After a long investigation, Sarkozy was cleared in October 2013 of accepting campaign donations in 2007 from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, when she was too frail to know what she was doing.

Documents obtained by French investigative website Mediapart in 2012 appear to show approval for the money's disbursement by Libyan authorities.

Sarkozy, 63, had until now refused to respond to a summons for questioning in the case, which drew heightened scrutiny last November when a businessman admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader as contributions towards the French leader's first presidential bid.

Takieddine said in 2016 that he personally handed over three suitcases filled with cash from Gaddafi to Sarkozy and a senior aide to help finance Sarkozy's campaign.

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In a television interview in 2012, Mr. Sarkozy dismissed as "grotesque" allegations that he received financing from Gadhafi.

He was taken into custody after a former associate, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London in January.

The former French ruler is alleged to have accepted €50m from Muammar Gaddafi's regime - claims repeated by the late Libyan dictator's son and French businessman Ziad Takieddine.

Colonel Gaddafi was ousted from power during the fallout of the Arab Spring in October 2011 following North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bombardment of his convoy by French aircraft and captured by so-called "rebel fighters", dying in unconfirmed circumstances.

French Prime Edouard Philippe told French television on Tuesday that he had "no comment" on the case in the first official reaction to Sarkozy's detention.

Sarkozy is facing a separate case for concealing election over-expenditure in his failed 2012 campaign.

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