FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2017 file photo, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attends newly named member of the Constitutional Council Dominique Lottin’s oath-taking ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody on Tuesday March 20 2018 as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing from the regime of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.(Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP, File)

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation into allegations he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the regime of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

A judicial source with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that Sarkozy was being held at the Nanterre police station, north-west of Paris. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Sarkozy has vehemently and repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the case, which involves funding for his winning 2007 presidential campaign.

Though an investigation has been underway since 2013, the case gained traction some three years later when French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told the online investigative site, Mediapart, that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($6.2 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff Claude Gueant.

A lawyer for Sarkozy, 63, did not immediately respond to a message from the AP seeking comment.

Investigators are examining claims that Gadhafi’s regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros overall for the 2007 campaign. Such a sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time of 21 million euros. In addition, the alleged payments would violate French rules against foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.

Related: Trump replaces 90-day travel ban

A former top aide of Sarkozy, former minister Brice Hortefeux, was reportedly questioned on Tuesday but was not detained. Sarkozy can be held up to 48 hours and could be placed under formal investigation after his hearing.

In the Mediapart interview published in November 2016, Takieddine said he was given 5 million euros in Tripoli by Gadhafi’s intelligence chief on trips in late 2006 and 2007 and that he gave the money in suitcases full of cash to Sarkozy and Gueant on three occasions. He said the handovers took place in the Interior Ministry, while Sarkozy was interior minister.

Takieddine has for years been embroiled in his own problems with French justice, centring mainly on allegations he provided illegal funds to the campaign of conservative politician Edouard Balladur for his 1995 presidential election campaign — via commissions from the sale of French submarines to Pakistan.

Takieddine made his accusations at a time when Sarkozy was taking part in the presidential elections’ primary to be the candidate of the right-wing party The Republicans. Sarkozy lost in the first round, ending third behind Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe.

Fillon’s own campaign was destroyed by corruption allegations. The former front-runner in the presidential race was charged over the allegations and he suffered a big loss in a vote won by Emmanuel Macron.

According to Le Monde newspaper, investigators have recently handed to magistrates a report in which they detailed how cash circulated within Sarkozy’s campaign team.

In January, a French businessman suspected of playing a role in the financing scheme, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London on a warrant issued by France “for offences of fraud and money laundering.” Le Monde said French investigators are also in possession of several documents seized at his home in Switzerland.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007-12, had a complex relationship with Gadhafi. Soon after becoming the French president, Sarkozy invited the Libyan leader to France for a state visit and welcomed him with high honours. But Sarkozy then put France in the forefront of NATO-led airstrikes against Gadhafi’s troops that helped rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.

It is not the first time that Sarkozy faced legal troubles. In February 2017, he was ordered to stand trial after being handed preliminary charges for suspected illegal overspending on his failed 2012 re-election campaign. Sarkozy has appealed the decision.

Related: Canadian man loses family members to conflict in Libya, says Ottawa could have done more

Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CATena offers glimpse into Central Alberta Theatre’s new season

Visitors can also check out Memorial Centre refurbishments

Crews respond to diesel spill in Penhold

Individuals transferred diesel from one truck to the other

Local filmmaker works on documentary featuring women farmers

Red Deer woman receives $50,000 grant from STORYHIVE to produce documentary

Red Deer Rebels lose to Edmonton Oil Kings 4-1 at home opener

General Manager and Coach Brent Sutter said team ‘played hard’

Thurber Raiders snatch season opener from the Lacombe Rams

Red Deer game saw 44-8 win for the Raiders

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

Man attempts to stop fight in Wetaskiwin, gets stabbed: RCMP

Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for two suspects involved in assault with a weapon

Cities make power play for new fiscal order with eye to 2019 federal election

Trudeau ordered Champagne to talk with provinces and territories about ways to “address the timeliness of the flow of funds” to projects.

Ottawa area residents take stock of tornado rubble as Ford tours the ruins

A tornado on Friday afternoon tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in the Ottawa community of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que.

Trudeau arrives at United Nations, hoping to re-establish Canada on world stage

Trudeau is beginning his day at the opening of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, where he’s scheduled to deliver brief remarks later this afternoon.

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Most Read