Top Sarkozy aide faces probe over Libyan election funding claims

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In a dramatic development Claude Guéant, ex-chief of staff to President Nicolas Sarkozy and a former interior minister, has been placed under formal investigation for “laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud as part of an organised gang”, “forgery” and “use of false instruments” in connection with the probe into claims that the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi illegally funded Sarkozy's successful 2007 presidential election campaign. Investigators want to know the origin of more than 500,000 euros that was transferred into his bank account in 2008 and part of which he later used to buy a flat in Paris. Experts in the art world have cast doubt on Guéant's explanation that the money came from the sale of two paintings by 17th century Dutch artist Andries Van Eertvelt.

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Nicolas Sarkozy's former right-hand man Claude Guéant has been placed under formal examination as part of the ongoing investigation into illegal funding of the ex-president's 2007 election campaign by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Guéant, 70, who was Sarkozy's chief of staff at the Elysée then France’s interior minister, had been detained for questioning by police officers from the anti-corruption squad since Friday and presented before an examining magistrate on Saturday. He was then formally placed under investigation – one step short of charges being brought – for “laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud as part of an organised gang”, “forgery” and “use of false instruments”.