Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

France 24 meets George Weah ahead of inauguration

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gymnast's fierce courtroom address

Read more

THE DEBATE

A whole new world: Trump anniversary special

Read more

#TECH 24

Will artificial intelligence ever surpass the human brain?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Aiding migrants in France: What are the legal implications?

Read more

FOCUS

The challenge of clearing Colombia of landmines

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Gambians reflect on first year of democracy

Read more

FASHION

Pitti Uomo in Florence, the world's largest men's fashion showcase

Read more

ENCORE!

Award-winning Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza on keeping it real

Read more

france 24 France

Sarkozy received suitcases full of cash from Libya’s Gaddafi, businessman says

© AFP archive | Nicolas Sarkozy is trailing behind rival Alain Juppé in primaries to choose a centre-right candidate for the 2017 presidential election.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-11-15

Just days before a crucial French presidential primary, former President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing fresh allegations that he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

An investigation into the case, involving funding for Sarkozy’s successful 2007 presidential campaign, has been underway since 2013.

In a video interview with the investigative website Mediapart released Tuesday, a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, said he delivered three suitcases from Libya, containing 5 million euros in cash, to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff and campaign director, Claude Guéant.

Takieddine said he had given a written deposition to judges on November 12 detailing three cash handovers between 2006 and 2007 and his meetings with Guéant and Sarkozy.

At no point, he says, did he see the two men look inside the cases after he dropped them off at the Interior Ministry, where Sarkozy was minister at the time.

Bad timing for Sarkozy

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012 and is seeking nomination as the conservative candidate in next year’s presidential vote, has always denied allegations that he took covert funding from Libya.

His entourage did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Takieddine’s statement came just days before Sunday’s first round of a primary election to pick the centre-right’s candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and risked overshadowing the last days of Sarkozy’s campaign.

Sarkozy is trailing in the polls behind the current favourite, Alain Juppé, who was prime minister from 1995 to 1997 under former President Jacques Chirac, and has been hoping to exploit the momentum of improved ratings since Donald Trump’s election victory in the US last week.

Polls predict that the April-May 2017 elections will be a showdown between far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and the winner of this month’s primaries.

The second round is due to take place on November 27.

Denials

In response to the allegations, Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, accused Takieddine of “lacking credibility, as has been repeatedly demonstrated”.

Herzog also accused Mediapart of attempting to “tarnish” Sarkozy ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting.

“Mr. Sarkozy formally denies these accusations,” Herzog said in a statement, adding that Sarkozy will launch legal action against what he called "this grotesque manipulation.”

Guéant’s lawyer, Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi, also denied the claims that his client was involved.

“Claude Guéant’s 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.

Libyan officials from the Gaddafi era have previously claimed they helped finance Sarkozy’s election campaign.

Sarkozy 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.

“Why and how can a guy like this stand for presidency of the Republic? The French people must react. It will explode,” Takieddine told Mediapart.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-11-15

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy pins hopes on ‘Trump effect’ ahead of crucial right-wing vote

    Read more

  • USA

    'Don't be afraid', Trump tells protesters as he outlines plans to deport immigrants

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France's Sarkozy, Juppé trade barbs in second presidential primary debate

    Read more

COMMENT(S)