Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was arrested Tuesday over claims his 2007 presidential campaign received $61 million in funding from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The arrest follows a five-year probe into claims Sarkozy illegally financed his run with funds from the late despot.
Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told the investigative website Mediapart in 2016 that Sarkozy and Claude Gueant, his former chief of staff, took delivery of suitcases stuffed with more than $6 million in cash.
Both Sarkozy and Gueant deny any wrongdoing.
One of Sarkozy's former ministers and a close ally, Brice Hortefeux, was also questioned by police Tuesday, according to Le Monde. French businessman Alexandre Djouhri, who was closely connected to Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign, was also recently arrested in London on a warrant issued by France “for offenses of fraud and money laundering.”
France has a campaign finance limit of $26 million, and no foreign contributions are allowed.
Sarkozy’s relationship with Gaddafi was complex. Months after becoming president, Sarkozy honored the Libyan leader with a state visit. However, by 2010 France was leading a NATO offensive against Gaddafi’s troops, helping rebel fighters topple the regime in 2011.
Cover image: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is welcomed by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafiupon his arrival in Tripoli 25 July 2007. (PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)