Nicolas Sarkozy in police custody over Gaddafi funding probe
Former French president’s 2007 campaign allegedly financed by Libyan dictator
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is being held in police custody over suspected illegal campaign financing linked to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Investigators in the Paris suburb of Nanterre are questioning Sarkozy about whether his successful 2007 election campaign received €50m (£44m) in illicit funds originating from the dictator, who was killed by rebels in 2011 at the close of the Libyan Civil War.
Such a sum “would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time” and violate French rules against foreign financing, the Associated Press says.
This is the first time Sarkozy has been quizzed by police since a judicial inquiry was opened in 2013, according to French newspaper Le Monde.
The investigation centres on claims by former members of the Libyan regime. Sarkozy, who served as president between 2007 and 2012, denies any wrongdoing.
The allegations first emerged after he spearheaded an international military campaign to topple the Libyan regime in 2011.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, said at the time: “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.”
In 2016, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine claimed that he had personally delivered suitcases containing €5m (£4.4m) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff Claude Gueant.
Sarkozy’s former aide Alexandre Djouhri was arrested in London in January in connection with the investigation. He has since been granted bail and will face an extradition hearing next month.