Nicolas Sarkozy denies illegal funding allegations

Mar 25, 2018, 00:46
Nicolas Sarkozy denies illegal funding allegations

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is being detained for questioning as part of an investigation looking into allegations that he took millions of euros from Libya to fund his 2007 election campaign. "It might take me one, two, 10 years but I'll smash this group [of accusers] and will restore my honour", he said. "I don't plan to give an inch!"

Reuters adds: "A former minister and close ally of Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police on Tuesday morning in relation to the Libya investigation, another source close to the probe said".

"It's an ignominious act, not (just) a lie", Sarkozy said during a live television interview on French station TF1.

"I am hurt deeply as a person, not for me, for my country", Sarkozy said in his concluding remarks.

"Do you want to know the figure the police who questioned me calculated regarding the sum believed to have circulated during my 2007 campaign? I can't let them get away with it". That same year his son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, made his first allegations about the Libyan campaign financing.

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The 63-year-old rightwinger said in his court statement, published by the Figaro newspaper, that he had been through "hell" since the allegations emerged in 2011.

The revelations came as Sarkozy was trying to win re-election, but he ultimately lost the 2012 race to Socialist Francois Hollande.

The former president was charged with corruption on Wednesday following an ongoing investigation that started in 2013, over claims that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime secretly gave him €50 million ($61.7 million) for the 2007 campaign.

Mr Sarkozy and his campaign manager have repeatedly denied accepting money from Libya.

And he lashed out at Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine who claims to have delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from Kadhafi in 2006 and 2007, when Sarkozy was preparing his first run for president. The courts have ruled it can be used as evidence.

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Sarkozy has been accused of financial wrongdoing before.

The legal investigation is also looking into a 500,000-euro foreign cash transfer to Sarkozy's former chief of staff Claude Gueant and the 2009 sale of a luxury villa to a Libyan investment fund.

Le Monde newspaper further reported that other former regime officials have stepped forward alleging illicit financing.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy can not travel to certain countries including Libya, and is forbidden from talking to nine other people involved in the investigation.

In 2014, a French judge ordered Sarkozy to stand trial in an illegal campaign finance case, after accusations that his party falsified accounts in order to hide €18m (£15m) of campaign spending in 2012.

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