Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy refused to answer questions over the allegation that he received millions in campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
The question over the $53 million campaign funds was asked during the final television debate among seven right-wing presidential hopefuls ahead of the first round of their primary.
Irritated by the question, Sarkozy said: “Aren’t you ashamed to repeat claims by a man who has spent time in jail?”
Sarkozy, who is bidding to recapture the presidency in next year’s election, has for years been dogged by allegations that he accepted millions from Gaddafi during his successful 2007 run for the top office.
On Tuesday, Al-Arabiya reported that Lebanese-French businessman Ziad Takieddine said he had delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan regime to the Frenchman’s first presidential bid.
Declining to answer the question from a France 2 presenter, Sarkozy suggested it was beneath the dignity of a public television network.
In a film published on the investigative news website Mediapart, Takieddine, who introduced Sarkozy to Gaddafi, insists he handed over cases stuffed with cash to the former French leader and his chief of staff, Claude Guéant.
Acting out the scene, Takieddine says in the video: “It was a case like that. It opened like this. And the money was inside.”
He told Mediapart: “I have discovered things that should no longer be hidden. I wish to denounce the mafia state in which we are currently living.”
The allegations first emerged five years ago, but Takieddine’s claims are potentially damaging because they come days before Sarkozy seeks the presidential nomination of the centre-right Les Républicains party. The first round of the party’s primaries, in which Sarkozy is trailing Alain Juppé, the mayor of Bordeaux, will be held on Sunday.
The allegations first emerged five years ago, but Takieddine’s claims are potentially damaging because they come days before Sarkozy seeks the presidential nomination of the centre-right Les Républicains party.
Takieddine, a wealthy businessman who was close to Gaddafi’s regime, told Mediapart he had transported Libyan cash to the French interior ministry at Place Beauvau in Paris, headed at the time by Sarkozy, on three occasions between November 2006 and January 2007. In May 2007, Sarkozy was elected president.