Keyword: Ziad Takieddine

'Karachi affair' suspect charged, held in France

Arms dealer Ziad Takieddine had been detained on suspicion that he was making plans to flee the country by trying to buy a diplomatic passport.

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.

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 Part of the sums were subsequently withdrawn in cash from Swiss bank accounts by Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, who continued to serve until 2009 as an intermediary in weapons contracts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.

Gaddafi funding of Sarkozy election campaign: the proof

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Mediapart can reveal compelling new evidence that President Nicolas Sarkozy's successful 2007 election campaign was partly funded by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. A document signed by a senior figure in Libya in 2006 and recently obtained by Mediapart states that the regime approved a payment of 50 million euros to back Sarkozy's campaign, following a meeting with one of his most trusted political allies. The explosive revelation is certain to fuel calls for a full-scale enquiry into the funding of the president's last election campaign. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

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.

Man behind Gaddafi-Sarkozy funding allegations report turns on Mediapart

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MM. Hortefeux et Takieddine, en 2005 © dr MM. Hortefeux et Takieddine, en 2005 © dr

After providing Mediapart with further information concerning allegations that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign was partly funded by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the man at the centre of the controversy has now suddenly denounced a “crude manipulation” of his secret report detailing the alleged scam. Jean-Charles Brisard, a French expert on terrorism and terrorist financing, had earlier told Mediapart how Brice Hortefeux, (pictured with arms dealer Ziad Takieddine) a longstanding close friend and political aide of the French president and who is now vice-president of France’s ruling UMP party, was the “front” in a financial network set up for the secret funding of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by the Gaddafi regime. The Swiss-based consultant said he had a file containing “precise amounts, names, countries and dates.” 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.

French ruling UMP party chief in 4 million-euro tax gift probe

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Extrait de la lettre de Jean-François Copé, ministre du budget. Extrait de la lettre de Jean-François Copé, ministre du budget.

Jean-François Copé, leader of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, is at the centre of a police investigation into the annulment, when he was budget minister, of a tax back payment of 6.2 million-euros demanded from a wealthy businessman connected to two key suspects in the so-called ‘Karachigate' illegal political funding affair. The tax adjustment, which was reduced by 4 million euros (document above), came after arms dealer Ziad Takieddine raised the case with Copé on the behest of Nicolas Bazire, managing director of luxury goods firm LVMH, according to a statement given to police by Takieddine's British former wife, Nicola Johnson. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

French political funding scandal reveals a tale of two 'Titty's

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Le bar Nibar, à Nilo. © (dr) Le bar Nibar, à Nilo. © (dr)

Two Paris judges leading an investigation into suspected illegal political party financing via official French weapons sales abroad are now focusing their enquiries on the financial activities in Colombia of Thierry Gaubert, a longstanding close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Gaubert, a formal suspect in the political funding scam and a former aide to Sarkozy before he became president, used secret off-shore accounts to build a luxurious mansion in the Colombian mountains, on a guarded estate shared by an associate, Jean-Philippe Couzi. In this second exclusive report from Colombia, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske reveal how Colombian police targeted Gaubert, as well as Couzi, for suspected money laundering, and the bizarre story of how the pair set up two bars by the names of ‘Nibar' (pictured) and ‘Nichon', the French equivalents of ‘Titty' and ‘Tit'.

The Sarkozy aide and his secretly-funded Colombian mansion

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Le balcon de la maison Gaubert.  © dr Le balcon de la maison Gaubert. © dr

Thierry Gaubert, a longstanding friend and aide of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was in September placed under formal investigation - one step short of being charged - for "aiding and abetting the misuse of company assets" over his role in a suspected political funding scam connected to French weapons sales abroad. In this exclusive report, Mediapart reveals how Gaubert built himself a luxurious, sprawling property (pictured) in Colombia, using funds hidden abroad, where his guest book resembles a list from Who's Who in France. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report from Nilo, Colombia.

Exclusive: British witness in French funding scandal hits back at ‘protected’ arms dealer

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 © Hugo Vitrani © Hugo Vitrani

Nicola Johnson (pictured) is the British former wife of Ziad Takieddine, a Franco-Lebanese arms dealer at the centre of what has become known in France as the ‘Karachi Affair', involving secret political funding from commissions paid in French weapons sales abroad. She has become a key witness in the independent judicial investigation into the suspected scam in which several of Nicolas Sarkozy's closest aides and friends are implicated, and which is now engulfing the French President himself. In this exclusive interview with Mediapart and French weekly L'Express, Johnson speaks publicly for the first time about her husband's activities, his relations on high and how she once found a bullet shot through her car windscreen.

The plan for Gaddafi to help France free Ingrid Betancourt

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine is a key figure in what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair', involving alleged secret political funding from commissions paid in French weapons sales abroad. A judge leading an independent probe into the suspected scam last month placed Takieddine and two of President Nicolas Sarkozy's close friends and aides under formal investigation in the case. In a series of investigations that began this summer, Mediapart has revealed Takieddine's unusual role as intermediary and advisor in a number of French weapons sales, and his close relationship with several of President Sarkozy's inner circle of friends and advisors. Documents obtained by Mediapart now disclose how the arms dealer was involved in arranging for the French presidency the services of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to free former hostage Ingrid Betancourt (photo) from her FARC captors in Colombia. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

The arms dealer and his 'friendly' services for UMP leader Copé

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Documents obtained by Mediapart show that the head of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, Jean-François Copé, enjoyed more than what he maintains are purely amicable relations with a key suspect in the illegal political funding investigation in which members of the president's close entourage are implicated. For despite the UMP secretary-general's public claims that he "never had relations of a professional nature" with Ziad Takieddine, Mediapart can reveal that the Paris-based arms dealer paid for a visit for Copé to Lebanon, in which he organized a programme of meetings with the Lebanese prime minister and other senior political and business figures. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.