Authorities in Beirut have reportedly arrested a French-Lebanese businessman linked to allegations of illicit Libyan financing for Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 French presidential election campaign, on foot of an Interpol request.
Ziad Takieddine fled to the Lebanese capital earlier this year after a French court sentenced him to five years in prison in a separate case involving millions of euros he’d allegedly received for arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Takieddine previously claimed he had personally delivered suitcases carrying a total of €5 million from Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Tripoli to Sarkozy’s chief of staff back in France in 2006 and 2007.
However, he retracted the claim about the Libyan funds last month, instead accusing the magistrate overseeing the trial of the former French president of having twisted his words to make him “say things that are totally contradictory” to what he actually said.
Takieddine will now be questioned by Lebanon’s general prosecutor to establish whether or not the charges against him are justified and can be proven in court, the AFP reported. If the case proceeds, his trial could be held in Lebanon, where he is a citizen, or in France, with him being extradited back there.
Sarkozy is currently on trial in a separate case, accused of corruption and influence-peddling for allegedly attempting to bribe a magistrate in return for information about an investigation into his party’s finances.
On Thursday, former French Interior Minister Claude Gueant was charged with being part of a criminal conspiracy over the Libyan funding investigation. Gueant was seen as a close ally of Sarkozy, working as his chief of staff from 2007 to 2011 and his Interior Minister from 2011 to 2012.
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