March 23, 2012
Damaging claims have emerged about the funding of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and his links with the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The French investigative website Mediapart claims to have seen a confidential note suggesting Gaddafi contributed up to €50 million to Mr Sarkozy’s election fund five years ago. A spokesman for Mr Sarkozy has denied the reports.
Paris, FRANCE – Friday, March 23, 2012
The note published by Mediapart says in translation ”methods to finance Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign [were] settled during the Libya visit” of Mr Sarkozy and his close friend and aide, Brice Hortefeux, who was also a government minister at the time.
Franck Louvrier, a spokesman for Mr Sarkozy, told Bloomberg News that the allegations were ”ridiculous, deceitful and false”. Mr Hortefeux also denied them to Mediapart, although he confirmed that he had been in Libya with Mr Sarkozy in October 2005.
At the time Mr Sarkozy was France’s interior minister with well-documented ambitions to succeed Jacques Chirac. Political financing laws ban candidates from receiving cash payments above €7500 but Mediapart claims that €50 million mentioned in the memo was laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland.
The Swiss account, it is alleged, was opened in the name of the sister of Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of Mr Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party and one of the most active campaigners for his re-election.
The memo claims that ”ZT”, believed to be an arms dealer called Ziad Takieddine, known to have close ties with several of Mr Sarkozy’s most loyal aides, was ”in charge of arrangements”.
It also mentions ”several previous meetings” between Mr Takieddine and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi’s son and heir. Last year Saif al-Islam claimed Libya helped finance the 2007 campaign and demanded the French President, who led the war on the Libyan leader, return the money. In an interview with the Euronews TV channel, Saif al-Islam, who is currently being held in Libya after his father’s defeat and death, threatened to make details of the bank transfers public after the French leader threw his weight behind opposition forces.
Shortly after Mr Sarkozy’s election, Gaddafi was invited to Paris and allowed to pitch his Bedouin tent in the grounds of an official French residence close to the Elysee palace. He was described as the ”Brother Leader” by the French.
Guardian News & Media, The New York Times