A massively wealthy arms dealer with close links to Britain claims that he can provide proof that Nicolas Sarkozy received millions in illegal cash from Colonel Gaddafi, it emerged today.
Ziad Takieddine, 62, insists that the former Libyan dictator funded the former French president’s election campaign in 2007.
Takieddine was interviewed by Paris judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke on December 19 and said the majority of the money was paid between ‘December 2006 and January 2007’, five months before Sarkozy came to power.
Promising that ‘I can supply you’ with the paperwork, Takieddine said he wanted a ‘new enquiry’ into the scandal.
Takieddine’s explosive testament follows similar claims from other witnesses, all of whom insist that Sarkozy was a corrupt head of state.
French law bans candidates from receiving cash payments above £6,300, but it is claimed that Gaddafi’s donations were laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland.
An Arabic language document made public last year refers to Gaddafi approving an ‘agreement in principle to support the campaign for the candidate for the presidential elections, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to 50 million euros (£40 million)’.
A bundle of incriminating evidence was leaked by senior members of the National Transitional Council, the organisation which governed Libya after the Arab Spring revolution.
The money was then allegedly distributed through Takieddine, who was acting as a middle man between Arab despots and French politicians. Gaddafi’s son, Saif-Al Islam Gaddafi, also insists that Libya financed Sarkozy’s election.
Saif-Al Islam, who is now awaiting trial, said: ‘Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it.’
Eyebrows were first raised when Gaddafi was honoured with a state visit to Paris in late 2007.
He was referred to as the ‘Brother Leader’ by the French president, and allowed to pitch his tent next to the Elysee Palace.
The apparently incriminating evidence emerged through an investigation into Takieddine’s involvement in the so-called ‘Karachi Affair’.
This involved illegal kickbacks to France on a on a 1994 arms sale to Pakistan, in which Sarkozy is also implicated.
As head of state, Sarkozy could not be prosecuted while in office, but within weeks of him losing the election to Francois Hollande in May his Paris home was raided by police.
He and his third wife, Carla Bruni, were abroad in to Canada at the time, but Sarkozy has since been made an ‘assisted witness’ in the so called ‘Bettencourt Affair’.
This is yet another corruption scandal, in which Sarkozy is accused of accepting millions in illegal cash from Liliane Bettencourt, the l’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman.
Sarkozy turned on his friend Gaddafi at the beginning of the Arab Spring, French jets were the first to attack Gaddafi’s tanks in a brutal military campaign which ended with the Libyan leader being murdered.
Sarkozy was unable for comment on today’s revelations, but has previously claimed that the Gaddafi accusations are ‘grotesque’.
Takieddine, who is worth upwards of £100 million, was last year involved in a bitter divorce from his estranged British wife, Nicola Johnson, 50.
The couple enjoyed living in a number of homes across the world, including Warwick House, in Holland Park, west London, which was estimated to be worth upwards of £17 million.
Takieddene is under investigation for the role he played in the Karachi affair, but denies any wrong doing.