Karachi

Net closes in on French presidency after funding 'scam' arrests

International — Report

Two of President Nicolas Sarkozy's close entourage have been arrested and placed in police custody for questioning over their roles in a suspected illegal political party funding scam connected to French weapons sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The arrests threaten the political future of the president who, when budget minister, authorized the financial arrangements for the payment of commissions through which the kickbacks were allegedly channeled.

Arms dealer probe brings illegal funding scandal closer to Sarkozy

France — Investigation

Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine (photo), who enjoys longstanding close personal and professional links to ranking French presidential staff and ministers past and present, was on Wednesday formally placed under investigation - a French legal move that precedes official charges - for "aiding and abetting the misuse of company assets" and "receiving" the proceeds, during his role as an intermediary in a controversial weapons sale to Pakistan. The move is highly embarrassing for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, pointing a finger directly at both him and his entourage all of whom are now engulfed in a scandal of suspected illegal party funding involving massive secret kickbacks from a series of official arms deals. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Exclusive: how President Sarkozy’s team dealt with Gaddafi

International — Investigation

Mediapart has obtained confidential documents that reveal how international arms dealer Ziad Takieddine was mandated by Nicolas Sarkozy's staff, before and after he became president, to negotiate on their behalf major weapons and security contracts with the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.Takieddine was notably an intermediary for the sale of a French encrypted signals system to protect the Libyan regime from surveillance by the US-led Western communications interception network known as ‘Echelon'.Mediapart can also reveal that President Sarkozy's former chief-of-staff, the current French interior minister Claude Guéant misled, while under oath, a French parliamentary commission investigating the circumstances of French involvement in the freeing of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian medic jailed in Libya, in 2007.

How Sarkozy aides saved arms dealer from paradise island 'death blow'

International — Investigation

Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine is a key witness in an ongoing judicial investigation into suspected illegal political financing in France via commissions paid in weapons sales abroad, notably a sale of French submarines to Pakistan. In an ongoing series of investigations into the arms dealer's close ties with the entourage of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mediapart reveals how, when Takieddine was brokering a weapons deal for Sarkozy when the latter was interior minister, he fell victim to a mysterious accident on the exclusive billionaires' retreat in the Caribbean island of Mustique. The minister's top aides rushed to save him from a near-certain death in what Takieddine claimed was an assassination attempt.

Sarkozy, the arms dealer, and a secret 350 million-euro commission

International — Investigation

A contract for the sale of submarines to Pakistan is currently the subject of a French judicial investigation into suspected illegal political party funding in France via commissions paid abroad. Several witnesses have identified Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine as being a principal intermediary in the deal. In this third report on the activities of the arms dealer and his close relations with President Nicolas Sarkozy's immediate entourage, Mediapart reveals how in 2003 Takieddine was destined to receive 350 million euros in secret commissions from another arms contract, via a company run by the interior ministry then headed by Sarkozy. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske investigate.

The well-connected arms dealer and his tax returns

International — Investigation

In an ongoing judicial investigation into suspected illegal political party funding in France via a sale of submarines to Pakistan, several witnesses have identified Franco-Lebanese businessman and arms dealer Ziad Takieddine (photo) as being a principle intermediary in the deal. Earlier this week, Mediapart revealed his closeness to key members of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's inner circle. In this second report, Mediapart can disclose how Takieddine pays no income tax nor wealth tax in France, despite being domiciled in the country and where, according to documents signed by his hand, he has a wealth of 40 million euros. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske investigate.

Secret French spy reports point to bribes behind Karachi blast

International — Investigation

In May 2002, a group of 11 French engineers died in a bomb attack on their minibus in Karachi, Pakistan. They were helping to build submarines sold to Pakistan in a murky deal involving huge bribe payments. For years the blast was officially attributed to Islamic terrorists, a theory now dismissed. Mediapart has gained exclusive access to secret intelligence reports, hidden for almost nine years, which strengthen suspicions of a cover-up in a political scandal that runs all the way to the doors of the French presidency.

Balladur's second stash of cash

France — Investigation

Already at the centre of the Karachi affair over suspected illegal electoral funding from arms sale kickbacks, former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur is now facing more questions over large and mysterious cash sums belonging to a political organization under his control. This time it concerns a stash of almost 100,000 euros found lying in a Paris safe, officially destined to pay for weekly breakfast meetings, and which was the object of a rapidly-shelved investigation in 2007.

Karachi blast probe rapporteur demands truth from Constitutional Council

France — Interview

Bernard Cazeneuve, rapporteur for the French parliament's mission of enquiry into the deaths in a bomb blast in Karachi in 2002 of 11 French naval engineers, tells Mediapart of his outrage at the 'obstruction'of the judicial investigation into the murders, and says the Constitutional Council "owes it to the victims" to reveal the truth about Edouard Balladur's presidential election campaign funds.

Inside story: the Constitutional Council, Balladur and the row over his election funds

France — Investigation

In May, 2002, eleven French naval engineers died in a bomb attack in the Pakistani port of Karachi, where they had been helping to build three submarines sold by France to Pakistan in 1994. The ongoing Paris-based judicial investigation into the murders is working on the theory that they were murdered in revenge for the non-payment by France to intermediaries of huge cash kickbacks. It has found evidence suggesting the kickbacks may have also involved illegal political funding in France. Central to this allegation are the presidential election campaign expenses of former prime minister Edouard Balladur, for whom Nicolas Sarkozy was campaign spokesman and which are due to be the subject of a second judicial investigation. Both deny any wrongdoing. However, Mediapart reveals how France's top administrative court smothered evidence suggesting the contrary.

Karachi: bribes, bloodshed and the buried truth

International — Investigation

On May 8th, 2002, a group of 11 French naval engineers died in a bomb attack in the Pakistani port of Karachi. They had been helping with the construction of three Agosta 90 attack submarines, sold to Pakistan by France in 1994. An ongoing French judicial investigation into the blast is now working on the theory the murders were in retaliation for the non-payment by France of huge cash kickbacks promised to secure the deal. But evidence increasingly suggests that the bribe money was also ultimately destined for illegal political party funding in France.