Lebanon arrests businessman linked to Sarkozy corruption case

Lebanon arrests businessman linked to Sarkozy corruption case

Lebanese authorities have arrested a Lebanese French businessman who allegedly funnelled millions of euros from former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the latter’s 2007 election campaign, a judicial source said.

Ziad Takiedinne was arrested by Lebanon’s elite Information Branch on Thursday night, based on an Interpol arrest warrant originally issued by France, the source told Al Jazeera.

French prosecutors had formally charged Sarkozy with corruption and “membership in a criminal conspiracy” in the Libyan financing case in October.

Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, France’s former Interior Minister Claude Gueant was also charged in the case.

Takieddine, 70, was being interrogated by security forces on Friday and is set to be questioned by Lebanon’s top prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat on Monday.

Should charges be brought against him, he would likely face trial in Lebanon – rather than be extradited to France – because he is a Lebanese citizen, the source said.

In 2016, the businessman had said he delivered millions of euros in cash from Gaddafi to Sarkozy – claims that he retracted just last month.

A French embassy spokesperson refused to comment on legal matters.

This is not the first time Takieddine has been implicated in corruption.

The businessman fled to Beirut in June after a French court sentenced him to five years in prison in a separate case involving millions of euros in kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed in 1994, the AFP news agency reported.