Nicolas Sarkozy’s links with Moamer Gaddafi came under fresh scrutiny on Tuesday after a businessman claimed he had delivered three suitcases full of cash from the Libyan leader toward the Frenchman’s first presidential bid. In an interview with the Mediapart investigative news site, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he had made three trips from Tripoli to Paris in late 2006 and early 2007 with cash for Sarkozy’s campaign. Each time he carried a briefcase containing between 1.5 and 2.0 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, Takieddine said in a video interview, adding that he was given the money by Gaddafi’s military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.
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. During questioning in a separate case, Takieddine accused Sarkozy of having been in Gaddafi’s pocket in 2006-07 but he had never previously claimed to be the bagman. The allegations against Sarkozy first emerged in March 2011, when the French leader was campaigning for the NATO-led military intervention that helped overthrow Gaddafi. “Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign,” Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, who is now in jail in Libya, demanded.
A year later, as Sarkozy was campaigning for a second term, Mediapart published a document signed by former Libyan intelligence boss Musa Kusa referring to an agreement for 50 million euros (USD 54 million at current rates) in backing from Tripoli. Sarkozy, who lost his 2012 re-election bid, vigorously denied the allegations, claiming the document was a fake. Takieddine’s video testimony comes five days before Sarkozy goes up against former prime minister Alain Juppe and other rivals in a primary to choose the candidate of the French right in next year’s presidential vote. The first round of the two-stage primary takes place on Sunday.