Sarkozy in police custody over campaign financing

Prime News, International (Paris), March 20:- Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken into police custody to be questioned over allegations that he received millions of euros in illegal election campaign funding from the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarkozy, who was France’s rightwing president from 2007 to 2012, was being questioned early on Tuesday morning at a police station in Nanterre, north-west Paris, as part of an inquiry into whether Gaddafi and others in Libya illegally financed his winning election campaign in 2007.

The investigation is potentially France’s most explosive political financing scandal in decades. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied the allegations, dismissing the claims as “grotesque”.

It is the first time Sarkozy has been questioned by police over the allegations. A French inquiry into alleged illegal campaign funding from Libya was opened in 2013. The inquiry did not name anyone as a suspect and has centred on claims of corruption, influence trafficking, forgery, abuse of public funds and money laundering.

In April 2012, the investigative website Mediapart published a document it said was signed by a senior Libyan figure stating the regime approved a payment of €50m to “support” Sarkozy’s election campaign.

Previously Sarkozy and Claude Guéant, a close ally and former minister, claimed documents obtained by Mediapart were false. A French court later declared that certain documents were authentic, allowing them to be used in the long-running investigation. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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