Nicolas Sarkozy

Europe crisis leaves French G-20 goals in tatters

International — Link

President Sarkozy promised an "ambitious and humble" year as leader of the G-20, and has a lot to be humble about, comments AP business writer.

Takieddine says Villepin in Sarkozy smear campaign

France — Link

Key suspect in French probe into illegal political funding via arms sales abroad accuses former PM Dominique de Villepin of smear campaign.

Sarkozy re-election snarled by probes, threatening euro role

France — Link

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's re-election threatened by corruption probes involving his associates, his popularity rating close to record low.

Captain Sarkozy hits the iceberg

France — Opinion

One after the other, President Nicolas Sarkozy's closest friends and aides, who for so long served as his political fireguards, have become implicated in a series of scandals and fast-developing judicial investigations. The alleged illegal political funding scam that has finally exploded with the revelations surrounding arms dealer Ziad Takieddine has already demolished the president's once solid network of protection. What has been happening this past month at the summit of French political power is historic, writes Mediapart editor François Bonnet, for never before has a French president been so exposed to being sunk by scandal and the revenge of abandoned protagonists.

Arms dealer suspect in political funding scam probe issues 'warning' to President Sarkozy

France — Report

Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, at the centre of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair', involving secret political funding from commissions paid in French weapons sales abroad, has given a detailed interview to French TV news channel BFMTV (photo), in which he appeared to address a warning to President Nicolas Sarkozy, now increasingly implicated in the case: "I want to see the president, he has an interest, I think, and France has an interest, that he receives me for at least 15 minutes."

Police question Sarkozy friend and advisor Brice Hortefeux

France — Link

French police quiz President Nicolas Sarkozy's adviser and friend Brice Hortefeux over his access to confidential evidence in 'Karachigate' case.

French judge finds key evidence in illegal funding probe

France — Investigation

A Paris magistrate investigating suspected illegal political party funding in France has obtained documents (photo), extracts of which are exclusively published here by Mediapart, which amount to the most significant evidence yet indicating that former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur's presidential election campaign may have been partly funded via French weapons sales abroad. While the events date from the 1990s, they lie at the heart of what has become known as the Karachi Affair, a fast-developing corruption scandal implicating current French President Nicolas Sarkozy and several of his senior political allies. Fabrice Arfi reports.

'Everyone's in the merde': the secret cash funding scandal shaking down the house Sarkozy built

France — Investigation

After a week of startling developments, the French presidency was this weekend engulfed by yet more revelations over the illegal political party funding scandal dubbed as Karachi-gate, involving secret cash payments siphoned off from French weapons sales abroad, notably to Pakistan, which implicates both the French president and his close political entourage. Two of Nicolas Sarkozy's longstanding political servitors, Nicolas Bazire and Thierry Gaubert (photo), are now under official investigation over their alleged role in the affair, which includes the transport to Paris of suitcases stuffed with cash from a Swiss bank vault. Meanwhile, presidential advisor Brice Hortefeux, one of Sarkozy's closest friends, has been caught by phone taps informing Gaubert, while he was in police custody, of damaging statements made by his estranged wife, Princess Hélène of Yugoslavia. In this report on the latest developments in the case, Mediapart exclusively reveals excerpts of what Gaubert told the police, along with the official transcript of a phone conversation in which his daughter speaks of Sarkozy, Hortefeux and other senior officials as being "in the shit". Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

The French-built stealth offroader that may be hiding Gaddafi

International — Investigation

Amid continuing speculation over the whereabouts of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Mediapart has obtained exclusive details of a highly sophisticated ‘stealth' four-wheel drive armoured vehicle sold by France to Libya in 2008 for the dictator's safe transport. The modified Mercedes can "instantaneously detect over 2,000 threats" according to French company Bull which developed the vehicle's security system (illustration) as part of a controversial weapons and security contract negotiated with Tripoli by President Nicolas Sarkozy's staff. The deal included equipment presented as "an inviolable solution to the Anglo-American espionage system". Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on a deal that may still be ensuring mobile refuge for on-the-run Gaddafi.

Cameron and Sarkozy in Tripoli to Meet New Libyan Leaders

International — Link

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pay joint day-visit to Libya, pledging continued support for new leaders.

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.

French ex-PM Dominique de Villepin cleared of smear campaign

France — Link

French appeal court upholds acquittal of former French PM on charges of slandering Nicolas Sarkozy in Clearstream scandal.

Now a judge points finger at Sarkozy in Bettencourt affair

France — Analysis

The Bettencourt affair began as a sordid family quarrel about money and abuse of influence over L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and grew into a political scandal involving Europe's richest woman and the funding of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party. Now the judge who was kicked off the legal investigation speaks out in a new book, saying witnesses were too frightened to talk on the record. She also says a witness claimed to have seen Sarkozy take money personally. Bettencourt's former accountant also talks of intimidation and manipulation of her evidence. Mediapart editor François Bonnet reviews this latest explosive development in a scandal that is still rocking the French president.

How French intelligence shields the Sarkozy clan’s unofficial emissary

France — Investigation

In a series of exclusive reports that began in July, Mediapart has revealed the longstanding close links between France-based businessman and arms dealer Ziad Takieddine and the inner circle of advisers and aides surrounding Nicolas Sarkozy, before and after he became French president. Here, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske reveal how the French intelligence agency, the DGSE, has sought to conceal all it knows about the businessman's activities.

Economic policy - between austerity and a Rocky Horror Show...

Économie et social — Opinion

The Prime Minister François Fillon has just announced a series of new austerity measures to produce a further 12 billion euros in savings for the government in 2011 and 2012. This follows a downgrading in the forecast for economic growth for both years. The measures include a new reduction in the benefits afforded by a variety of tax breaks and a temporary 3% tax on those with massive incomes. But, argues Laurent Mauduit, the overall package is just another sign of the government's incoherent and crazy economic policy. And one which he says risks tipping France back into recession.