Nicolas Sarkozy will face trial for corruption and misuse of influence

Probe is part of five-year investigation into victorious 2007 presidential election campaign funding

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 29 March 2018 15:01
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Nicolas Sarkozy in police custody for questioning over 'funding from Gaddafi'

Nicolas Sarkozy will face trial over charges he misused his influence to secure leaked details of an inquiry into alleged irregularities in his 2007 election campaign.

Earlier this month, the former French president was taken into police custody over claims he received millions in euros in illegal election financing from the regime of the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyers say he will appeal the decision to send him to court, initially reported by Le Monde.

The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine separate allegations Mr Gaddafi funded Mr Sarkozy’s campaign and began to suspect he had kept tabs on a separate case through a network of informants.

One of the 63-year-old's lawyers and a magistrate will also face trial over attempts to secure leaked details of an inquiry into alleged irregularities in his election campaign.

The probe is part of a five-year investigation into the funding for his victorious presidential election campaign in 2007.

It was launched to investigate alleged misuse of power, forgery, abuse of public money, and money laundering.

In 2012, the investigative news website Mediapart published documents sugegsting Libya made cash payments to Mr Sarkozy's campaign of up to (£44m).

The legal campaign funding limit at the time was €21m (£18m).

The alleged payments would also have violated French rules on foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyers had previously argued magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a "fishing expedition"€ by tapping his conversations with them between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.

Based on the intercepts, Mr Sarkozy is accused of having discussed offering a promotion to a prosecutor in return for tip-offs on an investigation into accusations his former party treasurer and others exploited the mental frailty of France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, to extract political donations in cash.

Mr Sarkozy has always denied receiving any illicit campaign funding and has dismissed the Libyan allegations as "grotesque."

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