Judges step up hunt for the phantom figure behind the Karachi Affair

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A key suspect in a major investigation into the French illegal political funding scandal known as the ‘Karachi Affair’ is also wanted for suspected money laundering by police in Spain, where he had close links with former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar and King Juan Carlos, Mediapart can reveal. Companies belonging to Abdul Rahman Al Assir (pictured), a Lebanese-born businessman and arms intermediary, received millions of euros in commissions from French weapons sales that are at the heart of corruption scam allegations implicating President Sarkozy and his close entourage. Despite an international arrest warrant issued against him, El Assir is still on the run. Mediapart, meanwhile, tracked him down in Geneva. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the phantom witness that some are hoping will remain just so.

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Two French judges in charge of the political corruption case, Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Roger Le Loire, are searching for Abdul Rahman Al Assir, a Lebanese-born businessman and arms intermediary whose companies received millions of euros in commissions from the sale of French submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Saudi Arabia.