Prosecutors have begun a formal investigation into allegations that the former President, Nicolas Sarkozy, took more than €50 million (£43 million) from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, it emerged.
The investigation, which does not mention Mr Sarkozy by name, concerns possible corruption, influence trafficking, forgery, embezzlement of public funds and money laundering.
It follows allegations made just before Christmas by a Lebanese-born businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who told an investigative judge he could produce written proof that Mr Sarkozy’s first presidential campaign in 2006-07 was “abundantly” financed by Tripoli. The payments, he said, continued after Mr Sarkozy became President.
Mr Sarkozy, who faces another investigation involving France’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, denies the allegations.