Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Charged In Corruption Probe
A stunning and far-reaching public corruption probe in France has resulted in criminal charges being filed against that country's highest elected official, former President Nicolas Sarkozy. The charges came after Sarkozy was detained at a police station in a Paris suburb to face questioning over his alleged attempt to illegally influence judicial proceedings in corruption cases in which he has been implicated. Sarkozy faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Among the allegations against Sarkozy is a claim that former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi provided millions of dollars to finance his 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy is accused of accepting $70 million from Gaddafi as well as large sums of cash stuffed in envelopes from France's wealthiest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the L'Oreal fortune. Sarkozy is also accused of arranging kickbacks from a Pakistani arms deal prior to his election in 2007. His long-time attorney and a magistrate were also arrested in the judicial tampering probe. Sarkozy's predecessor, Jaques Chirac, was also convicted on public corruption charges stemming from his tenure as Paris' mayor.
Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations that Gaddafi helped finance his 2007 campaign as "ridiculous," noting France's participation in NATO efforts to oust the dictator in 2011. The news reports indicate that investigators were given authorization to tap Sarkozy's phones starting in 2013. Sarkozy was acquitted of charges that he accepted money from Bettencourt illegally in a proceeding concluded last year, but the Gaddafi investigation is ongoing. Authorities learned after months of fruitless investigating that Sarkozy had a cell phone registered under an assumed name that he was using. Recordings from that phone allowed the investigators to gather evidence in their ongoing influence peddling probe.