Keyword: Nicolas Sarkozy
The placing under investigation of Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday for corruption, embezzling public funds and illegal electoral funding by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has come about as the judicial investigation is in its fifth year, and seven years after Mediapart first revealed the former conservative president’s dealings with Tripoli. During the entire period, which includes five years of socialist government, the political powers have regularly turned their backs on the disturbing questions raised by the mounting evidence of Sarkozy’s dubious relations with the dictator, and also the circumstances of France’s subsequent military intervention in Libya, to the point of dismissing repeated calls for a parliamentary inquiry. Antton Rouget reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy placed under investigation for corruption, embezzling public funds and illegal political funding
Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation by magistrates on Wednesday for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” and “passive corruption” at the end of almost 48 hours of questioning by French police investigating evidence that the former French president’s 2007 presidential election campaign was partly funded by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It is unprecedented in France for a former president to face prosecution for having been sponsored by a foreign power. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest events and the background to the case, which followed Mediapart's first revelations in 2011.
The middleman Alexandre Djouhri has been released on bail by a court in London pending proceedings to extradite him to France. Examining magistrates in Paris investigating claims that Libyan regime money was used to finance Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign want to question Djouhri over crucial documents found at his Swiss home. Mediapart understands these show that the middleman did indeed oversee the payment of half a million euros of Libyan origin to President Sarkozy's most trusted lieutenant, Claude Guéant. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.
“I did it in 2017....I will do it in 2018”. On Sunday December 31st, President Emmanuel Macron delivered his first New Year goodwill message to the French people. Just 12 months ago no one imagined that he would be the occupant of the Élysée. Even last summer, when he had been elected, no one thought he would be in a strong position. Yet here he is, and his political situation looks robust. But it is a little too early for the new president to get out the bunting just yet. For Hubert Huertas argues that President Macron is about to face his biggest political 'opponent' – himself.
The financial crime branch of France’s public prosecution services has widened the remit of a judicial investigation into suspected corruption in a sale of French helicopters to Kazakhstan to include the suspected involvement of France’s intelligence services in a plan to protect a businessman close to the Kazakh president from prosecution in Belgium. The move follows revelations by Mediapart and Belgian daily Le Soir of evidence suggesting the intelligence services were manipulated by officials of the French presidency under Nicolas Sarkozy in order to seal the deal worth a total of 2 billion euros. Yann Philippin reports in collaboration with Mediapart's Belgian press partners in this investigation, Alain Lallemand (Le Soir), Thierry Denoël (Le Vif) and Mark Eeckhaut (De Standaard).
The fact that a party that did not even exist just over a year ago has just won an absolute majority in the French National Assembly has inevitably excited surprise among commentators. But, argues Hubert Huertas, one remarkable aspect of the recent presidential and legislative votes has largely gone unnoticed: the death of the notion that French society was on some inevitable path towards the far right. This theory, which was enthusiastically adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy and exemplified by the Front National, has been comprehensively demolished, he says.
Through the havoc it wreaked on the established political system, the recent French presidential election showed the hunger that exists for democratic renewal. But if the Parliamentary elections later this month give Emmanuel Macron's government an absolute majority it would be a retrograde step to presidential supremacy and a compliant Parliament, argues Mediapart’s publishing editor and co-founder Edwy Plenel. That is why, he says, we need a pluralist National Assembly encompassing a diverse, democratic, social and environmental opposition.
A French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, opened after evidence of Tripoli’s agreement to make the payment was published by Mediapart, has in recent weeks stepped up questioning of suspects and witnesses in the case who have confirmed the abundant use of cash sums to pay campaign staff. Several former managers and secretaries of the campaign were placed in custody and questioned by police who also carried out searches of their homes. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Mathilde Mathieu report.
Boris Boillon, 47, who served under president Nicolas Sarkozy as French ambassador to Iraq and Tunisia in a career steeped in controversy, has gone on trial for tax fraud and forgery after he was arrested in Paris trying to board a Belgium-bound train with bags containing 350,000 euros and 40,000 dollars in cash.
History has a long memory. The upheaval caused by the first-round vote in the French presidential election is the third act in a drama that began in 2007. The fourth act will be the likely success of Emmanuel Macron in the second round and his election as French president on May 7th. Hubert Huertas says Macron's triumph would also represent a final victory for centrist politician François Bayrou who tried but failed to break the two-party stranglehold on French politics a decade ago.
Lawyer Robert Bourgi, 72, is a veteran figure of “la Françafrique”, the once-rife secret and corrupt network of relations between successive French and despotic African governments, which included the illegal funding of French politicians and parties in return for favours and protection. His name resurfaced last month in the scandal-hit presidential election campaign of conservative candidate François Fillon, when Bourgi revealed it was he who offered Fillon two expensive tailor-made suits, raising further questions over Fillon’s probity and political independence. In this interview from Beirut, where he is sitting out the rest of the election campaign, Bourgi gave Mediapart his version of his relationship with Fillon, who he says asked him to deny being a benefactor, and lifts the lid on the murky practices in French politics. His account offers an insight into decades of political corruption.
Prosecution claims the former French president "knowingly" went over the €22.5m campaign spending limit in his 2012 election defeat.
The list of victims of the recent presidential primary elections held by the Left and Right in France is remarkable. Two presidents, two prime ministers and a number of senior former ministers have been rejected after rebellious voters gave their verdicts. The primary process - which ended on Sunday with the unlikely election of Benoît Hamon as the official socialist candidate for the presidential contest – has proved something of an earthquake for the French political establishment, writes Hubert Huertas.
In 2009 the former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin was paid nearly half a million euros in money which originated in a Libyan state fund, Mediapart can reveal. Details of the payment, which came via middleman and business Alexandre Djouhri, have been unearthed by investigators examining another 500,000 euro payment, which was made to Nicolas Sarkozy's former right-hand man Claude Guéánt and which passed through a similar route. Villepin has told detectives he was unaware of the Libyan origin of the money. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.
François Fillon wins sweeping victory to become conservative candidate in French presidential election
François Fillon will be the conservative candidate in the 2017 presidential election after a crushing victory over his rival Alain Juppé in this Sunday's primary election run-off. With most of the votes declared, the former prime minister has picked up two-thirds of the vote. This emphatic win on the back of a turnout of well over four million voters will give Fillon a huge springboard for next spring's presidential elections. For months Fillon languished in the polls, far behind his former boss Nicolas Sarkozy and the pollsters' favourite Juppé, the 71-year-old mayor of Bordeaux. But in the final days before last week's first round in the primary Fillon's support suddenly surged and he won that contest with more than 44% of the vote. This Sunday's stunning victory has confirmed that surge. In his victory speech Fillon said: “If in 2017 we take things firmly in hand then our country will go far, for nothing can get in the way of a people who want to take their future in their hands.” But the 62-year-old faces tough questions ahead about his radical programme for government. These will likely focus on three main areas: his social conservatism, his economic liberalism – including his plan to axe half a million public sector posts – and his foreign policy and in particular his desire for closer relations with Russia. Nonetheless Fillon now stands a good chance of being France's next head of state, given the splits and divisions on the Left and the unlikelihood that France will ultimately vote for the far-right Front National's Marine Le Pen to be President of the Republic next May. Follow the results and reactions in this crucial primary election here.