Sarkozy ally denies Gaddafi funding claims
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Claude Guéant, Sarkozy’s former minister and campaign manager denied allegations that 500,000 euros were handed over by the Libyan regime to fund Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign, claiming he made the money by selling 17th century Dutch paintings he owned.
Former French Interior minister Claude Guéant, interviewed on popular TV channel France 2’s evening news on Tuesday, denied having received Libyan money allegedly used to fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.
The former president’s close friend and collaborator spent Tuesday going around radio and TV stations asserting his innocence.
However Guéant did confirm allegations made by French weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchainé on Tuesday, that documents relating to a money transfer of more than 500,000 euros were confiscated by the police after a raid on his apartment and law firm offices last February.
The former minister said that money was declared and came from the sale of 17th century Dutch paintings he owned.
“These are processions I bought 20 years ago,” he said. “I have all the receipts and have made them available to the court.”
He admitted that some bills were paid in cash thanks to his ministerial “bonuses,” which range from “anything in between 20,000 to 25,000 euros.”
He added that these cash bonuses were brought to an end under Nicolas Sarkozy in 2006.
Liar or thief ?
However, former right-wing minister Roselyne Bachelot told TV station Direct8 that Guéant’s claims could not be true. “That he recieved bonuses after 2002 is absolutely impossible,” she said. “I was in government myself when [then-Prime Minister] Lionel Jospin banned bonuses.”
“Maybe there was money going round the Interior minister’s cabinet because they have to pay police informants, but that money shouldn’t have been pocketed. So, he’s either a liar or a thief,” she added.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been formally charged by a Bordeaux court Thursday 21 March 2013 with “exploiting the weakness” of the world’s richest woman, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, allegedly to illegally finance his 2007 election campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog said his client would be “fighting back immediately” against the charge.Sarkozy, 58, has always maintained that he visited Bettencourt's residence only once during the campaign, contrary to testimony from several members of the multi-millionaire's staff.
Jospin’s action against bonuses was subsequently confirmed by Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT, one of France’s major trade unions, and by Daniel Vaillant, who was interior minister at the time.
“We stopped paying bonuses on January 1st 2002. I doubt the following minister brought them back, but I can assure you that in our government, from that date, no bonus was paid,” Vaillant told France Info radio on Tuesday.
'I never saw or heard of Libyan money'
Guéant has been a close ally of Sarkozy from the start, becoming his chief of staff in 2002, minister of finance in 2004 before becoming interior minister in 2007. Sarkozy then named him his campaign manager for the 2007 presidential election.
The court issued a search warrant for Guéant’s home and offices during the probe into allegations that Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime contributed to Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
In December 2012, Franco-Libyan businessman Ziad Takieddine claimed he had proof of the financing.
“There is absolutely no Libyan financing in this matter,” Guéant said on the radio, adding, “at no point did I see or hear of Libyan money. I am clear and unconditional about that.”
He said he was registering two complaints against Ziad Takieddine for “the lies he is spreading and defamation.”