• France's news in English

Corruption cops question Sarkozy's best man

AFP · 21 Sep 2011, 17:12

Published: 21 Sep 2011 17:12 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A probe into alleged illegal campaign funding linked to a deadly 2002 Pakistan bombing drew closer to Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, with the French president's best man and a former aide detained.

Investigators are examining an alleged system whereby money paid in arms sales commissions -- legal at the time -- were channelled back into the illegal funding of political activities in France.

It is alleged that a bombing in Karachi that killed 11 French engineers in 2002 was revenge for the cancellation of commissions promised to officials involved in the sale of French submarines to Pakistan.

Magistrates are probing whether arms kickbacks were used to finance the 1994-95 presidential campaign of then-prime minister Edouard Balladur, whose budget minister and campaign spokesman was Sarkozy.

Police on Wednesday detained and questioned Balladur's then-cabinet chief and presidential campaign manager Nicolas Bazire over the alleged illegal party financing, a judicial source said.

Police also searched the home and office of Bazire, today a top manager at luxury giant LVMH, who was also best man at Sarkozy's 2008 wedding to former supermodel Carla Bruni.

Sarkozy's communications advisor until the mid-1990s, Thierry Gaubert, is due to be questioned on Wednesday by a magistrate after he was detained for questioning on Monday.

The magistrate, Renaud van Ruymbeke, could charge Gaubert after their meeting.

Investigators are probing links between Gaubert and Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, who was charged last week with fraud over two arms contracts with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in which he was allegedly middleman.

Story continues below…

A witness questioned by police on September 8th said Takieddine travelled several times to Switzerland in the mid-1990s with Gaubert to get cases of cash that were handed over to Bazire in Paris, news website Mediapart reported.

News weekly Nouvel Obs identified the witness as princess Helene of Yugoslavia, who went through a difficult divorce from Gaubert.

France's Constitutional Court advised in vain as early as 1995 that Balladur's campaign financing accounts be rejected because of question marks over where the cash came from. Balladur eventually lost the election to Jacques Chirac.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available