Former France President Nicolas Sarkozy charged with corruption over suspected Moamer Kadhafi financing

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was charged with corruption and illegal campaign financing on Wednesday.

Published: 22nd March 2018 04:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2018 04:21 AM   |  A+A-

In this December 10 2007 photo, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, greets Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace, in Paris. (File | AP)


PARIS: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was charged with corruption and illegal campaign financing on Wednesday over allegations that the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi helped fund his 2007 election campaign.

After five years of investigation and two days of questioning the rightwinger in police custody, judges looking into France's most explosive political scandal decided they had enough evidence to charge the 63-year-old.

The combative one-term president, who served from 2007-2012, was charged with corruption, illegal campaign financing and concealment of Libyan public money, the source added. He returned home Wednesday after being placed under court supervision.

Sarkozy denies the charges, which are the most serious out of the myriad investigations that have dogged him since he left office in 2012.

He will have six months to appeal the charges, which is he is likely to do, and the judges will have to make a further decision about whether they have sufficient proof to take the case to trial.

He was first taken into custody in the Nanterre suburb west of Paris on Tuesday morning before returning for another grilling on Wednesday morning.

Since 2013, investigators have been looking into claims by several figures in Kadhafi's ousted regime, including his son Seif al-Islam, that Sarkozy was on the take in 2007 from the man he helped topple four years later.

He is already charged in two separate cases, one relating to a system of fake invoices devised to mask overspending on his failed 2012 election campaign and another for alleged influence peddling involving a judge.

His right-wing Republicans party has so far backed him publicly.

"Friendship and loyal support to Nicolas Sarkozy in this test," the treasurer of his 2007 campaign, Eric Woerth, tweeted.

One of the party's lawmakers in northern France, Sebastien Huyghe, told BFM television he believed Sarkozy was the victim of "vengeance" by ex-Libyan regime members and by the French judiciary, with which he had a fraught relationship as president.

But there have been signs of unease among some senior conservatives who fear being contaminated by the mounting allegations against him.

Brice Hortefeux, a Sarkozy ally who was a top minister during his presidency, was also questioned Tuesday.

"Mr Hortefeux again assured that there was no financing from Libya or any foreign country," his lawyer Jean-Yves Dupeux told AFP.

Suitcases of cash?

In 2011, as NATO-backed forces were driving Kadhafi out of power, Seif al-Islam told the Euronews network that "Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign."

Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations as the rantings of vindictive Kadhafi loyalists who were furious over the French-led military intervention in Libya that helped end Kadhafi's 41-year rule and ultimately led to his death.

The former French leader has also sued the investigative website Mediapart, which has led media coverage of the Libyan allegations since 2012 when it published a document allegedly signed by Libya's intelligence chief showing that Kadhafi had agreed to fund Sarkozy to the tune of 50 million euros ($62 million).

Le Monde newspaper reported Wednesday that several other Kadhafi regime members had  come forward recently with more evidence.

The case drew heightened scrutiny in November 2016 when a Franco-Lebanese businessman admitted to having delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader in 2006 and 2007, when Sarkozy was preparing his first run for president.

The revelations came as Sarkozy was trying to make a comeback.

Ziad Takieddine claimed he provided 1.5 to 2 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes each time and was given the money by Kadhafi's military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.

The legal investigation is looking into these allegations, as well as a 500,000-euro foreign cash transfer to Sarkozy's former interior minister Claude Gueant and the 2009 sale of a luxury villa in the south of France to a Libyan investment fund for a suspiciously high price.

Businessman Alexandre Djouhri, an associate of Sarkozy's, sold the property for 10 million euros to a fund managed by Kadhafi's ex-chief of staff Bashir Saleh.

In January, Djouhri was arrested off a flight at Heathrow airport and appeared in court in London on suspicion of fraud and money laundering linked to the French probe.

Legal pressures

In July 2014 Sarkozy became the first former French president to be taken into police custody over a separate inquiry into claims that he tried to interfere in another of the myriad investigations that have dogged him since leaving office. 

He failed in his comeback bid for the presidency in November 2016 and has stepped back from frontline politics since then, but he still holds considerable influence with the Republicans party.

He is not the first former president to be charged with corruption, however.

In 2011, his conservative predecessor Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and misuse of public funds.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp