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A senior French civil servant has told a corruption investigation that former president Nicolas Sarkozy personally authorized the payment of secret commission payments from French armament contracts which are suspected of being used to illegally finance political activity. Mediapart can reveal that Patricia Laplaud, a former budget ministry financial supervisor of armaments sales gave a statement to the investigation, led by two Paris-based judges, in which she says that Sarkozy, when budget minister in 1994, ordered the secret cash transfers despite opposition from his ministerial advisors. Part of the sums were subsequently withdrawn in cash from Swiss bank accounts by Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, who continued to serve until 2009 as an intermediary in weapons contracts organized by Sarkozy’s staff. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
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