Sarkozy’s dealings with a dictator
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)
Something dark in Nicolas Sarkozy’s past may finally have caught up with him, said Ann-Dorit Boy. For years, rumors swirled that the former French president illegally accepted $62 million for his 2007 election campaign from then Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. Qaddafi is said to have confirmed the handout months before his 2011 death, and references to payments were found in a notebook belonging to Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem, whose body was discovered in the Danube River in Vienna in 2012. Then two years ago, a French-Lebanese businessman told French reporters that he’d carried suitcases full of cash from Tripoli to Paris. Investigators kept digging, and new leads must have emerged, because Sarkozy was recently taken into custody for police grilling. Sarkozy—who is facing corruption, influence peddling, and illegal campaign-financing charges in unrelated cases—denies any wrongdoing. But if the allegations are true, they may explain why Sarkozy behaved with such “embarrassing obsequiousness” to Qaddafi, rolling out the red carpet on his state visit to Paris, and why, conversely, in 2011 he campaigned so hard for military intervention in Libya, hoping perhaps to erase that memory. Could Ghanem’s death, once thought an assassination, also be connected? If this affair continues to develop, it could leave France’s previous corruption scandals in the shade.