Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over allegations he received millions of euros from then Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's regime to finance his 2007 campaign, a judicial source said late Wednesday.
Sarkozy is facing potential charges including illegal campaign funding and receiving the proceeds of the embezzlement of Libyan public funds, the source said.
Sarkozy was grilled for a second full day on Wednesday by police investigating allegations that he received funding from the late Libyan leaderGaddafi.
It is the second major investigation for Sarkozy, who is also facing charges of illicit campaign spending overruns during his failed re-election bid in 2012.
An investigation has been underway since 2013 into the case, involving funding for Sarkozy's winning 2007 presidential campaign. Investigators are examining claims that Gadhafi's regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros overall for the campaign.
The sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time — 21 million euros. In addition, the alleged payments would violate French rules against foreign financing and requiring that the source of campaign funds be declared.
The 63-year-old Sarkozy, who was president from 2007-12, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He could be handed preliminary charges when his hearing is done.
The investigation got a boost when French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told the online investigative site Mediapart in 2016 that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($6.2 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Gueant.
Sarkozy had a complex relationship with Gadhafi. Soon after winning the French presidency, Sarkozy invited the Libyan leader for a state visit and welcomed him to France with high honors.
But Sarkozy then put France in the forefront of NATO-led airstrikes against Gadhafi's troops that helped rebel fighters topple Gadhafi's regime in 2011.
In the Mediapart interview, Takieddine said he was given 5 million euros in Tripoli by Gadhafi's intelligence chief in late 2006 and 2007 and that he gave the money to Sarkozy and Gueant in suitcases on three occasions. He said the cash transfers took place in the French Interior Ministry, while Sarkozy was interior minister.
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