France’s former First Lady, Carla Bruni charged with corruption offences

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France

Former French first lady and supermodel, Carla Bruni has been charged with corruption offences.

The 56-year-old is alleged to have been involved in a criminal conspiracy to ‘whitewash’ her husband, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, 69, over allegations that he accepted millions in cash from the late Libyan dictator,  Muammar Gaddafi.

After being questioned by examining magistrates on Tuesday evening,  a judicial source in Paris said she was being prosecuted July 9, about ‘witness tampering and fraud in an organised gang’.

Both extremely serious offences are punishable by up to 10 years, with sentences going up to 20 with aggravating circumstances such as gang membership.

In particular, Bruni is accused of being part of a £4million campaign dubbed ‘Operation Save Sarko’ – a complex and illegal plan to try and keep Sarkozy, who is already a convicted criminal, out of a jail cell.

 

France
 

Bruni was ‘placed under judicial supervision and banned from contacting all those involved in the case’ apart from her husband, the source told the AFP news agency.

The bail conditions will be in place right up until Bruni appears before in a criminal trial.

Bruni is a close friend of Mimi Marchand, a French media fixer who has been placed under formal investigation for ‘witness tampering’ and ‘criminal corruption’ in the same case.

Marchand, 77 and nicknamed ‘The Paparazzi Queen’, is accused of paying former French-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, 74, to drop a sworn testament that he arranged for millions of dollars from Colonel Gaddafi to be paid to Sarkozy.

During an interview which was published in Paris Match magazine four years ago, Takieddine withdrew his claim that suitcases stuffed with cash had been delivered to Sarkozy’s colleagues.

The money was used to fund the 2007 election campaign that saw Sarkozy win his one and only term in office as President of France, it was alleged.

Sarkozy used the 2020 interview to falsely claim that he had been cleared because ‘the truth is out’.

But Marchand,  who also denies any wrongdoing is said by prosecutors to have offered Takieddine inducements to change his story.

The case involving Bruni is dubbed ‘Operation Save Sarko’, and is running in tandem with the Libyan funding case, in which Sarkozy has already been indicted.

Takieddine is said to have received the equivalent of up to £4million to ‘change his story,’ according to prosecution claims.

Bruni has continually denied any involvement in ‘Operation Save Sarko,’ saying she tries to avoid legal cases involving her husband, who has two criminal convictions to date.
She has previously said: ‘When people talk to me about it, it puts me in a situation of anger and indignation which does not help my husband.’
Bruni added: ‘I don’t have the beginnings of the slightest curiosity about my husband’s affairs.’
But detectives claim that Bruni deleted all of the messages she had exchanged with Marchand on the encrypted Signal app, before Marchand’s indictment in June 2021.

Sarkozy has been charged with corruption, ‘illicit funding of an election campaign’, ‘receiving misappropriated public funds’, and ‘criminal conspiracy’ in relation to the Gaddafi scandal, and is due to go on trial next year.

Three of his former ministers, Brice Hortefeux, Claude Guéant, and Éric Woerth are also under investigation.

In January, Sarkozy failed to overturn a criminal conviction and prison sentence for illegally funding his campaign for re-election.

He was found guilty of fiddling the books during his unsuccessful 2012 bid to become head of state.

Sarkozy, who was President of France for five years up until 2012, served his sentence wearing an electronic tag at the Paris home he shares with Bruni.

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