Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation on March 21 for accepting bribes, illegal campaign financing, and the misappropriation of Libyan public funds. The formal investigation was announced after police interviewed Sarkozy over a two-day period earlier that week. In France, to be placed under formal investigation means investigators have found sufficient evidence of breaking the law. Police investigators will now continue their investigation until they have strong enough evidence for a trial. Sarkozy is suspected of secretly accepting funds from the regime of Muammar Gaddafi for his first presidential campaign back in 2007 to the tune of €50 million.
Allegations that Sarkozy’s wrong doing were first made by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, in 2011. Saif said he witnessed the transfer of money to Sarkozy’s chief of staff, Claude Guéant, in Tripoli. “I saw with my own eyes the delivery of the first sum of money to Sarkozy’s man Claude Guéant in Tripoli,” he said.
Soon after Sarkozy won the French presidency, he invited Gaddafi to France for a state visit with high honors. However, by 2011, Sarkozy was at the forefront the NATO-led airstrikes that led to the dictator’s downfall.
Sarkozy has maintained his innocent and said during a television interview about the investigation, “There’s no evidence, no document, no photograph, no account, no material evidence: Only hatred, mud, mediocrity and calumny.”