News / Europe

Kickback Allegations Could Hurt Sarkozy's Re-election Bid

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, listens to Interior and Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux during a meeting on agriculture, in Mayet-de-Montagne, central France. (file photo)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, listens to Interior and Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux during a meeting on agriculture, in Mayet-de-Montagne, central France. (file photo)

France's prosecutors are looking into kickback allegations involving three allies of President Nicolas Sarkozy in a widening scandal that threatens to taint his bid for reelection.

Known in France as the "Karachi affair," the scandal is a tangled story of corruption that dates back to 1995, when France sold three submarines to Pakistan. French investigators are now probing allegations of kickbacks in the sales that theoretically helped finance the presidential campaign of France's former prime minister Eduard Balladur. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was budget minister at the time and close to Balladur. Magistrates also suspect the contract was linked to a bomb attack in Pakistan that killed 11 Frenchmen.

Now, three men close to Sarkozy are implicated in the alleged kickbacks. Police arrested two of them this past week, releasing both after questioning them. Prosecutors also announced they were investigating allegations that a third - former interior minister Brice Hortefeux - had illegally obtained access to the investigation and tipped one of the men off about confessions to police by his estranged wife, Princess Helen of Yugoslavia.

In an interview on France's Europe 1 radio, Princess Helen said she stood by her claims that her husband returned home from trips with suitcases of money. She said she didn't know where it came from.

A statement by the French presidency this week denied any involvement by Sarkozy in the affair, denouncing what it described as slander and political manipulation.

His center-right government has also closed ranks around him.

In an interview on French radio, Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno would not comment directly on the affair. But she also slammed what she called political manipulation just seven months before presidential elections.

Sarkozy has been struggling with low popularity ratings for months and his political rivals have been quick to capitalize on the scandal. Far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen denounced ongoing political corruption, as did members of the main opposition Socialist Party.

Socialist party head Martine Aubry, another presidential hopeful, described the affair as among the most serious in recent French history. She called for a thorough investigation.

Sarkozy ran for the French presidency in 2007 promising a clean government. His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was dogged by a series of corruption allegations during his marathon political career. He is currently on trial in connection with some of them. Prosecutors however have asked the court to dismiss the Chirac case for lack of sufficient evidence.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid