Ex-Sarkozy aide charged in case linked to Libya funding probe
A former French interior minister was charged with tax evasion and forgery in connection with a probe into allegations that former Libyan dictator Muammmar Gaddafi helped finance Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign.
Investigators discovered a 5,00,000 euro ($5,40,000) transfer in Claude Gueant's bank account during a raid in February 2013.
Gueant, who was Sarkozy's right-hand man for a decade, claimed the money was the proceeds of the sale of two 17th-century Flemish paintings to a Malaysian lawyer.
But art experts challenged the evidence, saying the highest price fetched at an auction by a painting by the artist, Andries van Eertvelt, was around 1,40,000 euros.
Gueant spent the night in the offices of the anti-corruption bureau in Paris before police resumed questioning yesterday morning.
A judicial source said Gueant had been charged with tax avoidance as part of an organized group and forgery.
Gueant's lawyer Philippe Bouchez el-Ghozi said his client, who was questioned for 30 hours and faced "almost 300 questions that mainly focused on the so-called Libyan funding", denied any wrongdoing.
He said his client had not been charged as part of the main probe and that his case simply boiled down to "justifying the acquisition of two paintings 22 years ago" and whether they had been properly declared for tax purposes.