Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained on charges of receiving funds from Gaddafi

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was on Tuesday in police custody for questioning over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained on charges of receiving funds from Gaddafi
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@NicolasSarkozy

Paris: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was on Tuesday in police custody for questioning over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarkozy, 63, was summoned to a police station in Nanterre and was being questioned in relation to "irregularities" over the financing of his 2007 presidential campaign that swept him to power for a single five-year term, Le Monde daily reported citing court sources.

An inquiry was opened in April 2013 into allegations that Sarkozy`s campaign had benefited from illicit funds from Gaddafi but it is the first time that he is being questioned over the matter. He has denied wrongdoing. 

The development came several weeks after a former associate, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London and later released on bail. One of Sarkozy`s former ministers and a close ally, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned on Tuesday, the BBC reported.

The former President can be held by police for up to 48 hours before facing magistrates.

French law bans candidates from receiving cash payments above 6,300 pounds, but the massive donation is said to have been laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland.

A document made public in Paris apparently showed that the French leader and the former Libyan dictator made an illegal financial deal, reports say.

Written in Arabic and signed by Mussa Kussa, Gaddafi`s Intelligence Chief, in 2006, it referred to an "agreement in principle to support the campaign for Sarkozy for a sum equivalent to 50 million euro".

A bundle of evidence was originally leaked by senior members of Libya`s National Transitional Council to French investigative news site Mediapart, according to a Daily Mail report.

A governmental briefing note among papers sent to Mediapart pointed to numerous visits to Libya by Sarkozy and his colleagues which were aimed at securing funding, it said.