Alleged Libyan financing in the 2007 French presidential election
Alleged Libyan financing in the 2007 French presidential election purportedly took the form of Libya's covert and illicit bankrolling of the presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy with up to €50 million in pay-outs. Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing and rejected suggestions he was a Libyan agent of influence during his tenure as president of France.
In May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France in a six-point victory over Ségolène Royal. Sarkozy officially spent €21 million on his campaign. The size of the campaign spend, relative to those seen in United States elections, prompted French scholar Sophie Meunier to later declare that "French politicians are, therefore, not enslaved to special interests or Super-PACs as they are in the U.S."
During the 2007 French election, candidates were limited to spending no more than €21 million, and no single person could donate in excess of €7500 to a candidate. In addition, the sources of donations had to be publicly declared and contributions from foreign nationals were prohibited.
Libyan détente and later reversalEdit
In December 2007, following Sarkozy's inauguration as President of France, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi visited the country on Sarkozy's invitation but over the objections of both the political opposition and members of Sarkozy's own government. The visit marked the first time Gaddafi had been to France in more than 35 years and, during the visit, France agreed to sell Libya 21 Airbus aircraft and signed a nuclear cooperation agreement. Negotiations for the purchase of more than a dozen Dassault Rafale fighter jets, plus military helicopters, were also initiated during the trip.
In 2011, France, under Sarkozy, voted for international military intervention in the Libyan Civil War against the Gaddafi government in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and, subsequently, attacked Libyan government forces in Opération Harmattan, in support of the National Transitional Council. France stated the move was to protect Libyan civilians.
The same month French forces were committed to the Libyan conflict, Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Muammar Gaddafi, gave an interview to euronews in which he first publicly claimed that the Libyan state had donated €50 million to Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign in exchange for access and favors by Sarkozy.
|“||We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything. The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people. He was given assistance so that he could help them. But he's disappointed us: give us back our money.||”|
Sarkozy rejected the claim by Gaddafi.
The following October, the claim of Libyan funding of Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign was repeated by former Libyan prime minister Baghdadi Mahmudi. Investigative website Mediapart subsequently published several documents appearing to prove a payment of €50 million, and also published a claim by Ziad Takieddine that he had personally handed three briefcases stuffed with cash to Sarkozy. French magistrates later acquired diaries of former Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem in which payments to Sarkozy were mentioned. Shortly thereafter, however, Ghanem was found dead, floating in the Danube in Austria and thereby preventing his corroboration of the diaries.
In 2014, television station France 3 released an audio recording made by Delphine Minoui on March 16, 2011, during which Minoui interviewed Muammar Gaddafi. In the recording, Gaddafi tells Minoui that Sarkozy had approached him seeking funds for his presidential election campaign while still serving as French interior minister.
In February 2018 Asharq Al-Awsat quoted a source who alleged Sarkozy had promised Libyan representatives improved relations between France and Libya should he be elected president, and that he would wrap-up the matter of the bombing of UTA Flight 772. As recently as 2018, Saif al-Islam reiterated his 2011 claim, and has since also added that a former officer of the Libyan intelligence service was at that time in possession of a recording of a meeting between Muammar Gaddafi and Sarkozy that occurred in Tripoli in 2007 and at which payments were discussed.
In 2013 the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ) officially opened an investigation into the allegations of Libyan funding of Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. In March 2018, Sarkozy-era interior minister Brice Hortefeux voluntarily appeared before French police for questioning. Several arrests have been made in relation to the inquiry.
Arrests and chargesEdit
|Name||Arrested?||Charged?||Background and status|
March 6, 2015
March 7, 2015
|Guéant, the former chief of staff to Sarkozy, was arrested and charged in March 2015 with money laundering and forgery in relation to the alleged Libyan funding affair. According to investigators, Guéant helped facilitate the transfer of Libyan funds and may have received $500,000 for his efforts, however, Guéant has claimed the money came from his sale of two Andries van Eertvelt paintings to a Malaysian attorney, with the sale arranged by Saudi businessman Khalid Bugshan. Authorities allege the transfer of the paintings, which were competitively valued at $35,000, was organized by Bugshan as a means of laundering the purported Libyan payment.|
|Khalid Ali Bugshan||Yes
March 6, 2015
|No||Saudi businessman Khalid Ali Bugshan was taken into police custody for questioning the same day as Claude Guéant.|
March 30, 2015
|No||François Guéant, the son of Claude Guéant, was taken into police custody in March 2015 for questioning over the alleged affair in a matter separate from his father's sale of van Eertvelt paintings.|
January 9, 2018
|No||Djouhri was arrested by British police at Heathrow Airport on a European Arrest Warrant which had been issued after he refused to appear at a court in Paris for questioning over the Libyan affair. Djouhri resisted extradition to France, with attorneys claiming the inquiry was politically motivated and expressing concern about French prison conditions. He was released on $1.4 million bail pending the outcome of his appeal of the arrest warrant, but was ultimately returned to France and placed in pre-trial detention in advance of a hearing scheduled for March 28, 2018|
Djouhri, a French citizen of Algerian heritage who resides in Switzerland, is alleged to have sold a €4.4 million villa in the south of France to the Bashir Saleh Bashir-managed Libya Africa Investment Portfolio for €10 million. The overpayment was purportedly used to launder funds to Sarkozy.
March 20, 2018
March 21, 2018
|Sarkozy was detained by French police for questioning in March 2018, during which he was held at the Nanterre station of the DCPJ, west of Paris.|
On March 21 he was charged with corruption. Officially, Sarkozy is under formal investigation, meaning judicial authorities have been presented with sufficient evidence by police to begin a full inquiry by an investigating magistrate, which would possibly lead to a trial.
Sarkozy's political party, The Republicans, issued a statement following his arrest in which it said the former president had the party's full support. Spokesman Christian Jacob later suggested that the accusations against Sarkozy were politically motivated.
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