Investigations

  • Senior Sarkozy aide pointed by scam probe evidence leaks

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    Mediapart has obtained new information that further suggests a key suspect in an investigation into the illegal political funding scandal, known as the Karachi Affair, was given confidential details of evidence from the enquiry by one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's closest aides, former interior minister Brice Hortefeux (pictured). The fresh twist in the affair counters earlier statements by Hortefeux denying that he had had illegal access to the investigating file and had passed on secret details of a witness statement to Thierry Gaubert, a former advisor to Sarkozy now placed under formal investigation for suspected embezzlement. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

  • French judge finds key evidence in illegal funding probe

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    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.

  • British divorcee becomes key witness in French political funding scandal

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    A British woman has become the key witness in the ongoing judicial investigation into suspected illegal political funding in France from weapons sales abroad, and which is now engulfing the French presidency in a scandal that threatens Nicolas Sarkozy's future. Mediapart can reveal here exclusive extracts from testimony given to police by Nicola Johnson, who was divorced earlier this month from Paris-based arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, currently under investigation for his role as a principle intermediary in the suspected scam. Her statement details how:

    • her former husband established extraordinary close relationships with senior French politicians, including the funding of lavish holidays for ministers.
    • Takieddine, who Mediapart has already revealed pays no tax on his 40 million-euro wealth in France where he is fiscally domiciled, apparently escaped a tax control last year after the intervention of a "higher authority".
  • 'Everyone's in the merde': the secret cash funding scandal shaking down the house Sarkozy built

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    Thierry Gaubert © Reuters Thierry Gaubert © Reuters

    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

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    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.

  • Arms dealer probe brings illegal funding scandal closer to Sarkozy

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     © dr © dr

    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.

  • Divorce court freezes arms broker’s assets

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    Ziad Takieddine Ziad Takieddine

    In a series of exclusive reports that began in July, Mediapart has revealed the long-standing 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 businessman's financial and property assets have been frozen ahead of his imminent divorce and assess what the implications are for the investigation into the Karachi affair.

  • How French intelligence shields the Sarkozy clan’s unofficial emissary

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    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.

  • When Total paid the bill for the Elysée's secret emissary

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    France-based businessman and arms dealer Ziad Takieddine is a key witness in an ongoing French judicial probe into suspected illegal party financing through commissions paid in a major French weapons sale to Pakistan. In a series of investigations that began in July, Mediapart has revealed how Takieddine has long served as a secret diplomatic and business emissary for the staff of Nicolas Sarkozy - before and after he became French president. Here, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske unravel how Takieddine, backed by Sarkozy's Elysée Palace chief-of-staff, was paid almost 7 million euros by oil group Total in a gas field deal with the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

  • Exclusive: the damning report by French magistrates on Christine Lagarde's suspected crimes

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    Mediapart has obtained exclusive access to the scathing conclusions of a French court that prompted its decision earlier this month to open an investigation into IMF chief Christine Lagarde's suspected 'aiding and abetting falsification' and 'misappropriation of public funds' when she was French finance minister. The magistrates from France's Court of Justice of the Republic detail why they suspect that she acted personally to ensure that French tycoon Bernard Tapie, who leant public support to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign, received a payout of 403 million euros from the public purse through an arbitration procedure.