Cash deposits of former Nicolas Sarkozy aide come under fresh scrutiny

The former Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, denies money laundering

Paris

An investigation into the alleged use of slush funds by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election campaign took a new twist after the leak of a memo signed by a Sarkozy aide.

Claude Guéant, a former Interior Minister and chief of staff to Mr Sarkozy, is being investigated over €500,000 (£423,000) in his bank account, which may have been paid by the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

But the examining magistrates also queried cash deposits ranging from €20,000 to €25,000 in Mr Guéant’s bank account. Mr Guéant denies any involvement in money laundering and insists that the €500,000 came from the sale of two Dutch paintings from his personal collection.

He says that the other deposits came from cash bonuses paid to senior interior ministry staff from police expenses and which he said he had continued to receive until 2006.

However, the Canard Enchaîné satirical newspaper undermined Mr Guéant’s defence by publishing a memo he had signed in February 1998 when he was director-general of the French police force, banning the use of the cash bonuses. Amid a public outcry over the payments, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has launched an inquiry in the ministry.

It emerged that a French comedian, Gérald Dahan, posed as Mr Valls in hoax telephone conversations with Mr Guéant and another close Sarkozy aide, concerning the alleged slush fund.

When Mr Dahan, pretending to be Mr Valls, told the former Interior Minister that he knew where the money came from, Mr Guéant cut him off, saying: “I’ve heard all about that.”

Senior right-wing politician Patrick Devedjian, however, told the comedian that “it’s certain” that the €500,000 never came from the sale of the two paintings.

Parties on both the right and left have been hit by financial scandals at a time when the government is pushing through unpopular austerity policies.

Socialist Jérôme Cahuzac, the former Budget Minister, was forced to resign last month over an illegal Swiss bank account into which he had transferred €600,000 while working as a cosmetic surgeon.

Meanwhile, Mr Sarkozy, who has been placed under investigation for “abuse of frailty” for allegedly exploiting a wealthy party donor suffering from dementia, is reported to be considering a political comeback.

Given the disastrous opinion-poll ratings of his successor as President, François Hollande, after his first year in office, Mr Sarkozy has said: “Perhaps I’ll be forced to return”.

Le Parisien newspaper said that Mr Sarkozy described the Socialist president as “utterly hopeless” and is said to be shocked by his lack of authority.

Mr Sarkozy, a lawyer by profession, has kept a low public profile since being voted out of office after a single term, and has reinvented himself as a speaker on the international circuit.

Mr Hollande raised expectations of an imminent government reshuffle in an interview with Paris Match magazine in which he said that “nobody is protected in the government”.

He has notably failed to curb infighting between key ministers responsible for economic policy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there