In late 2006, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi offered nearly $66 million, or 50 million euros, to support the 2007 campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s current president who is now facing almost certain defeat in a May 6 runoff vote, according to the investigative journalist website Mediapart.
The revelation, purportedly in an official Libyan document, comes a month after Sarkozy publicly rejected claims that his 2007 campaign had accepted funding from Gaddafi — with whom he had publicly carried on amicable relations even before emphatically winning the presidency five years ago.
An image of the Arab-language memo cited by Mediapart can be viewed here.
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According to the evening newspaper Le Monde, a Sarkozy spokeswoman today denounced the report as a diversionary tactic created by the campaign of Socialist rival François Hollande, the projected winner on May 6.
The Dec 10, 2006 document is signed by Moussa Koussa, Gaddafi’s foreign intelligence chief, and, according to a French translation, reads in part:
“Reference is made by the liaison office of the people’s general committee to the approval for supporting the electoral campaign of the candidate in the presidential elections, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, at an amount valued at 50 million euros…”
Mr. Koussa transmits the confirmed “agreement in principle on the above-referenced subject.” But the note does not indicate whether the funds were ever transferred.
At contemporary rates, that amount would have equaled about $66 million. The Sarkozy campaign officially spent only 20 million euros, or about $26.4 million.
The letter indicates that “an agreement on the amount and the method of payment” was approved several months earlier by Brice Hortefeux, a close ally of Sarkozy who at the time of the letter was minister delegate to France’s semi-autonomous territories. Hortefeux became immigration minister and then interior minister after Sarkozy took office.
Mediapart said it had been investigating Sarkozy’s relations with the former Libyan regime for 10 months but that high-placed former Libyan officials currently in hiding had given them the letter only in the last few days.
On April 10, the news magazine L’Express published an interview with Anne Lauvergeon, the former head of the nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva, who said Sarkozy had been especially eager to sell a reactor to Gaddafi but that she had opposed this.
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Appearing on television on March 12, Sarkozy had rejected as “grotesque” the possibility that he could have accepted such a huge sum from Gaddafi, according to Mediapart.
“This would require us to imagine Libyan financing of 50 million euros in an electoral campaign in which spending accounts are capped at 22 million euros, accounts that moreover were validated by the Constitutional Council and which gave rise to no dispute,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet was quoted as saying by Le Monde.
Polls forecast that Sarkozy will lose the May 6 election to Hollande by a margin of about 10 points.