allegations that former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign took funds illegally from the late Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi are to be investigated by a French judicial team.
An official from the Paris prosecutor’s office said an inquiry had been opened after Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine claimed Mr Sarkozy’s campaign took €50 million (£42m) from Gaddafi between 2006-7.
Mr Takieddine is himself under investigation in a separate inquiry into arms sales to Pakistan in the 1990s.
Mr Sarkozy, who was voted out in May last year, losing office to socialist candidate François Hollande, already faces an inquiry into his successful 2007 campaign.
The centre-right politician, who met Gaddafi in Paris in 2007 – a meeting organised by Takieddine – has always denied wrongdoing and has pointed out that he was the chief advocate of a Nato-led military campaign that resulted in Gaddafi’s overthrow and killing at the hands of rebel forces in 2011.
His 2007 campaign is already under investigation over the alleged links between his centre-right UMP party and France’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the L’Oreal cosmetics empire. Mr Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation last month over allegations he took advantage of the mental frailty of the 90-year-old woman to win campaign funds.
He denies any wrongdoing.