Claude Gueant, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-hand man has been charged with taking bribes, misuse of public funds and conspiracy, in the course of a probe into the financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.
Gueant, who denies committing any crime, underwent a day of questioning last Tuesday, but chose to "exercise his right to remain silent," his lawyer Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi told AFP.
Gueant earlier faced tax fraud and forgery charges over alleged 500,000 euro transfer he received in 2008 from a Malaysian company, along with a sale of a luxury villa in the French Riviera to a Libyan investment company.
Gueant’s activity attracted suspicions when the police files seen by the media website Mediapart stated that the former aide withdrew merely 800 euros in cash from his known bank accounts between 2003 and 2012, whereas he was reported to have purchased with cash a luxurious 720,000-euro apartment in the French capital.
The inquiry into the case kicked off in 2013, as several figures from Gaddafi’s ousted regime claimed that Sarkozy had heavily relied upon cash flows from their leader and his son Seif al-Islam. Three years later, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine stated he had delivered as many as three suitcases all filled with five million euros to Sarkozy and Gueant, who was then his chief of staff, in 2006 and 2007.
Sarkozy who was slapped charges on last March, stated in self defense that he had ended up as a victim of a revenge campaign by former officials from Gaddafi’s inner circle and pledged to clear his tarnished reputation, claiming shortly afterwards that he was “done” with politics.