Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was arrested on Tuesday morning in connection with a probe into the financing of his successful 2007 presidential run which allegedly included funding from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Sarkozy – who was president of France from 2007 until 2012 – is said to have accepted €50MM from Gaddafi’s regime, claims which have been repeated by the late Libyan dictator’s son and French businessman Ziad Takieddine, SkyNews reported. That amount would be more than double the legal spending limit in French elections at that time, which was €21MM. Alleged payments would also violate French laws on foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.
Sarkozy and his campaign manager have repeatedly denied accepting money from Libya. According to Le Monde, this is the first time Mr Sarkozy has been questioned in relation to this investigation, which was opened in April 2013. Sarkozy has already been ordered to stand trial in a separate case, concerning the financing of his 2012 re-election campaign, when he lost to Francois Hollande. He has denied that the unsuccessful 2012 re-election campaign received illegal funding.
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The former president can be held for up to 48 hours and presented to a magistrates’ court for indictment if police seek charges.
In March 2011, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the late dictator’s son, told Euronews: “Sarkozy has to give back the money he accepted from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We financed his campaign and we have the proof…
“The first thing we’re demanding is that this clown gives back the money to the Libyan people.”
Takieddine claims he delivered three suitcases stuffed with cash to Paris between 2006 and 2007, and handed them over to Mr Sarkozy in the interior ministry when he was a minister.
Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, attempted to stage a comeback for the 2017 election, but failed to convince the voters in his own party to support him and had to concede to Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe.