Sarkozy received millions of euros from Gaddafi to fund his 2007 campaign

Sarkozy and Gaddafi pictured in Paris in 2007
Sarkozy and Gaddafi pictured in Paris in 2007

France 24 – 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.

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