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Sunday 22 April 2018

Ex-French president Sarkozy faces charges in campaign funding probe

Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed his innocence during two days of questioning with anti-corruption police officers.

France Sarkozy
France Sarkozy

By Samuel Petrequin and Philippe Sotto, Associated Press

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been handed preliminary charges over allegations he accepted millions of euros in illegal campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

A judicial official told The Associated Press that investigative judges overseeing the probe gave the ex-president charges of illegally funding his 2007 winning campaign, passive corruption and receiving money from Libyan embezzlement.

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France Sarkozy

The charges came after Mr Sarkozy was questioned for two days by anti-corruption police at a station in Nanterre, north west of the French capital.

The investigation involving funding for his 2007 president campaign. Investigators are examining allegations that Gaddafi’s regime secretly gave the politician 50 million euros overall for his campaign.

The sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time — 21 million euros. In addition, the alleged payments would violate French rules against foreign financing and requiring that the source of campaign funds be declared.

Mr Sarkozy, 63, who was France’s president from 2007-12, has repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

In the French judicial system, preliminary charges mean Mr Sarkozy is personally under formal investigation in a criminal case.

The judges will keep investigating the case in the next weeks and months. At the end of their whole investigation, they can decide either to drop the preliminary charges or to send Mr Sarkozy to trial on formal charges.

Mr Sarkozy has faced other campaign-related legal troubles in the past. In February 2017, he was ordered to stand trial after being handed preliminary charges for suspected illegal overspending on his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

Press Association

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