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
. He has since officially been charged for corruption on March 21, 2018.
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 reversal
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.
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
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 charges
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.
Following Sarkozy's arrest, Eric Ciotti
expressed confidence the former president would be exonerated.
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Last edited on 10 April 2021, at 08:17
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