Keyword: Karachi affair

Two worlds collide at French trial into so-called Karachi affair

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Middleman Ziad Takieddine, left, and Thierry Gaubert, right, two of the accused in the Karachi trial. Middleman Ziad Takieddine, left, and Thierry Gaubert, right, two of the accused in the Karachi trial.

A trial is underway in Paris into the financial aspects of the so-called Karachi affair, which involves allegations of illegal kickbacks paid in relation to French defence contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the 1990s. The case has witnessed two very different worlds coming together in the same courtroom. On the one hand is the white-collar world of power, money and vanity represented by the accused, who were senior French advisors and officials. On the other side is the blue-collar world of workers, represented by the survivors and families of victims of the bus bombing which killed 14 people in Karachi in 2002, including 11 French defence staff who were working on contracts relating to those multi-million euro defence deals. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Trial opens in Paris into 'Karachi affair' funding scam

The trial of six former high-ranking French government officials accused of taking part in the secret siphoning off of funds from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to finance the presidential election campaign of former prime minister Edouard Balladur has opened in Paris.

Prosecutor recommends former French PM and minister stand trial for alleged corruption scam

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Édouard Balladur (centre) in 1995 with François Léotard (right) and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Reuters Édouard Balladur (centre) in 1995 with François Léotard (right) and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Reuters

Senior public prosecutor François Molins has concluded that former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and the defence minister who served under him, François Léotard, should be sent for trial for siphoning payments from public weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund Balladur’s presidential election campaign. Molins’s formal recommendations follow a lengthy judicial investigation into what has become known in France as “the Karachi affair”, a complex and far-reaching alleged corruption scam which surfaced after the murders of 11 French naval engineers in the Pakistani port city in 2002.

New bid to get former top French government aides tried over Karachi affair

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Facing trial? Former government aides Thierry Gaubert and Nicolas Bazire. © DR Facing trial? Former government aides Thierry Gaubert and Nicolas Bazire. © DR

An investigation into claims that kickbacks from French arms deals were illegally used to finance the 1995 presidential campaign of former prime minister Édouard Balladur has been bogged down in legal wrangles since early 2016. Now, however, a senior prosecutor has called for six men said to be at the heart of the corruption scandal known as the 'Karachi affair' to stand trial. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Trump election campaign manager cited in French probe into illegal political funding

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Paul Manafort, campaign manager for Donald Trump, at the Republican convention in Cleveland. © Reuters Paul Manafort, campaign manager for Donald Trump, at the Republican convention in Cleveland. © Reuters

Donald Trump’s election campaign manager Paul Manafort is suspected by a French judicial investigation of having signed a fake contract with Paris-based arms dealer Ziad Takieddine to help the latter hide the real origin of cash seized by customs officers which he had smuggled into France from Switzerland. The incident occurred at the height of what has become known as the “Karachi Affair”, involving suspected illegal funding of former French prime minister Édouard Balladur’s 1995 presidential election campaign. Manafort is also suspected by the investigation of having invoiced the Balladur camp for unnecessary opinion polls during the campaign. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.  

French 'Karachi Affair' judges unlock official secrecy laws in legal first

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Evidence sought by Paris-based judges leading a highly sensitive judicial investigation into the murders of 11 French naval engineers in Pakistan in 2002, which has exposed a major political corruption scandal in France, has for years been held back by France’s laws protecting defence and security secrecy. The persistent refusal to hand over intelligence documents and the silence of several key witnesses has heightened speculation of an orchestrated cover up to protect political and diplomatic interests. But, Mediapart has learnt, judges Marc Trévedic and Laurence Le Vert have now found a legal loophole with which to overcome the blanket protection of a law too often used to blunt investigations. The breakthrough may at last reveal the truth hidden behind 'The Karachi Affair', a dark and complex case that has rocked France’s political establishment. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Former top French government aides sent for trial in arms kickbacks scam

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Thierry Gaubert et Nicolas Bazire © DR Thierry Gaubert et Nicolas Bazire © DR

At the end of an investigation that has lasted more than three years, six people, including a former minister and the current managing director of luxury goods firm LVMH, have been sent for trial for their alleged roles in a gigantic political funding scam that centred on secret cash kickbacks from French weapons sales abroad.  The case, one the biggest political corruption scandals to have emerged in France in recent decades, yet threatens to engulf the political masters of those accused - former French prime minister Édouard Balladur, his defence minister François Léotard, and Balladur’s budget minister, later French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Fabrice Arfi reports.       

Arms dealer at centre of Sarkozy Libyan funding claims arrested amid fears he was set to flee country

Ziad Takieddine, who was a key intermediary between Sarkozy's entourage and the regime of Colonel Gaddafi and an important figure in the alleged illegal funding of the 1995 presidential campaign of Sarkozy’s political mentor and former prime minister Edouard Balladour, has been detained by police who suspect he was preparing to quit the country. The Franco-Lebanese businessman, who is under formal judicial investigation and forbidden to leave France, is said to have paid 200,000 euros to secure a Dominican Republic diplomatic passport (see above). Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske, Michel Deléan and Albert Michel report.

New 'Karachi' probe opened against Sarkozy

Investigation to see if the ex-president violated a confidentiality law when the Elysee published a press release on the affair in September 2011.

Senior French civil servant tells corruption probe Sarkozy signed off secret commissions

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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.

When Barclays financed money-laundering Paris arms dealer while eyeing business with Gaddafi

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Barclays bank agreed a multi-million-euro loan to a Lebanese arms dealer now at the centre of a major French political corruption scandal despite its knowledge that his vast personal fortune was hidden from the tax authorities in money-laundering offshore companies, Mediapart can reveal. In a confidential document revealed here, a senior manager with the bank's private client arm, Barclays Wealth, recommended the 13.6 million-euro loan with the avowed aim of using Ziad Takieddine (pictured) to help Barclays further its activities with the now-deposed regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Sarkozy hit with complaint over Karachi affair

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is targeted by a formal legal complaint in the 'Karachi Affair' corruption case involving arms sales abroad.

Kuwaiti sheik's Swiss account reveals key cash clue to 'Karachi Affair'

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A Paris judge investigating the suspected illegal financing of former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur’s presidential election campaign has uncovered new and compelling evidence that he received a significant sum of cash siphoned off from a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, Mediapart can reveal. The discovery, a major development in what has become known as 'the Karachi Affair', centres on cash withdrawn from a Swiss bank account belonging to a member of Kuwait’s ruling Al-Sabah family, Sheik Ibrahim Al-Duaij Al-Sabah. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

British divorcee blocks Karachi scandal broker's assets

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 © Mediapart © Mediapart

Latest developments in the ongoing bitter legal battle surrounding the divorce between Paris-based arms dealer Ziad Takieddine and his British former wife Nicola Johnson offer an insight into the opulent lifestyle of the man who has become the central figure in the French political corruption scandal known as the Karachi Affair. Bailiffs acting for Johnson, and under police escort, last month searched Takieddine’s Paris penthouse (pictured) and sprawling Riviera villa where they placed dozens of objects under seal, including precious artworks, among them a masterpiece by J.M.W. Turner, a vast collection of rare fine wines, prized antique furniture and decorative objects, and luxury vehicles. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

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

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El Assir El Assir

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.