-Article by François Grenet
Last week, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was accused of receiving illegal funding for his first 2007 presidential campaign. In an interview by Mediapart last week, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine confessed to having perpetrated these transactions for months, from the end of 2006 to beginning of 2007. According to Mr. Takieddine, starting in October 2006, the Libyan government gave him the task to hand three suitcases of euro bills over to the “UMP” candidate. The total was of five million euros. Even though Sarkozy was not charged when the case opened in 2011, this testimony brings new evidence to re-open the case. At the time, Mediapart’s accusations were not enough to convey Mr. Sarkozy. The charges were dropped and shortly after the French armed forces took over Libya to overthrow Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s government. The case was buried.
Nicolas Sarkozy, embodying the perfect example of a man of the system and involved in the political scene since 1974, is seeking re-election in May 2017. However, Mr. Takieddine’s statement could threaten his pretention to run for president again. The candidate has denied all of the accusations, offended that people could believe his accuser who also has a tumultuous relationship with the French judicial system. The businessman is indeed under formal investigation for a number of alleged offenses including receiving illegal kickbacks on French arms deals to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from 1993 to 1995.
Mr. Takieddine’s confession was undoubtedly a noble move, but what are his real motivations? Why wait ten years to reveal this information? When asked, he talks about his disillusion in French politics. “He clearly does not picture Mr. Sarkozy as France’s hero for 2017. How can a guy like him run for president once more?”, he said during the interview. But does Takieddine stand as a denouncer of political corruption, or is he trying to undermine Sarkozy’s chances to follow his agenda for a more private purpose? This would imply that he was trying to minimize allegations against him, dating back to 1993, by igniting, or re-igniting, allegations which were more recent and more explosive.
In any case, Sarkozy’s corruption draws deep cuts in his career and stains his image, which may reflect on a bigger change during the right party primaries election this month and the French Presidential election in May.