23:15 GMT01 March 2021
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    Last year, France's constitutional court found that the 1995 presidential campaign was the most contentious in terms of financing as Balladur's election budget exceeded the maximum campaign spending by 6 million francs, while his opponent Jacques Chirac had overspent by some 5 million francs.

    Former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur goes on trial Tuesday within the so-called Karachi affair for allegedly financing his 1995 presidential campaign with kickbacks, The Guardian reported.

    The scandal has been shaking the French political landscape for over 25 years. It centres around allegations of corruption involving two French arms deals - the first was the sale of submarines to Pakistan in 1993, and the second was frigate sales to Saudi Arabia in 1995.

    The deals, signed when Balladur was prime minister under Francois Mitterand, involved kickbacks estimated at some 13 million francs at the time (€2 million today), 10 million of which went as a cash donation to Balladur's campaign.

    Balladur, who has been charged with complicity in the alleged misappropriation of public funds, has denied any wrongdoing and said that he thought the money for his campaign was coming from sales of t-shirts at rallies and meetings.

    In June 2020, three former government officials were found guilty on charges involving the kickbacks. The three are - Nicolas Bazire, Balladur's former campaign manager, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, a former adviser to Defence Minister François Léotard and Thierry Gaubert, a former adviser to then-budget minister and later president Nicolas Sarkozy.

    trial, arms deals, Edouard Balladur, France
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