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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid