Nicolas Sarkozy allegedly received €50 million ($65.8 million) in illegal campaign contributions from Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi when he first ran for president of France in 2007, documents and letters leaked to investigative website Mediapart reveals.
A government briefing note published by Mediapart talks about numerous visits to Libya by Sarkozy (then the Interior Minister) and his colleagues to secure funding. The note mentions on October 6, 2005 that campaign finance terms to “NS” (Nicolas Sarkozy) were “solved”, Le Monde reports.
Mediapart claims the money referred to in the note was laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland.
Other people involved, who have been mentioned in the documents include arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, who often acted as a middle man between Arab despots and French politicians, and Brice Hortefeux, one of Sarkozy’s closes government allies, according to The Daily Mail.
The note is currently in possession of the French police and Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke.
Takieddine has declined to comment, and while Hortefeux acknowledges the trips, he says they were not for campaign financing. The Elysee Palace has also denied the allegations.
The revelations follow Qaddafi’s son and former heir, Saif-Al Islam Qaddafi, last year stating unequivocally that Libya had financed Sarkozy’s election. “Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it. We have all the details and are ready to reveal everything,” he had said in an interview with Euronews.
As France’s head of state, Sarkozy cannot be prosecuted while in office, but if he loses the upcoming elections (which seems likely) a full investigation could be conducted into his party’s finances (which, due to a different scandal, is already on the cards).
Already, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is calling for an explanation from Sarkozy. “The information [of Mediapart] that establishes a link with the visit of Nicolas Sarkozy in Lybia [sic] October 6, 2005 cannot remain unanswered,” a spokesman said in a statement.
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