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Nicolas Sarkozy targeted by an investigation for the frequent use of 500 euros banknotes

A search conducted in late 2017 in Paris has revealed a regular use by Nicolas Sarkozy of liquid in large denominations, leading to the opening by the National Public Prosecutor's Office (PNF) of a new investigation revealed by Mediapart and confirmed Thursday by a source judicial. This source did not specify what are the possible offenses covered by this new judicial procedure of the anti-corruption prosecutor against the former President of the Republic.

"During a search in late 2017 at the famous Parisian antique dealer Christian Deydier, (…) the police officers of the Office anti-corruption (OCLCIFF) have got their hands on a fold in the name of Nicolas Sarkozy, which had been deposited the day before," writes the online news site, in its article published Wednesday.

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The envelope, discovered during this search carried out for investigations into a possible Libyan financing of his presidential campaign of 2007, contained "a check of 2,000 euros" for the purchase of an antique in the name of the former president, "As well as four 500 euro banknotes".

2,000 euros for "the purchase of a Chinese statuette"

The PNF then opened an incident investigation, in which the former President of the Republic was questioned, according to Mediapart. Nicolas Sarkozy explained that "at the time, every month, one of his assistants will in his name withdraw from the bank some 2,000 euros in large bills, including 500 euros notes," reports the media.

The practice is not illegal and it was not possible to link with certainty these withdrawals to the sums discovered at the antique dealer, therefore "the judicial investigation gets bogged down", notes Mediapart.

The former president claimed that the 2,000 euros discovered "were destined for the purchase of a Chinese statuette" that one of his micropartis – the Association for Action Support Nicolas Sarkozy (ASANS) – wanted to offer to Michel Gaudin, in apparent contradiction with its social object, according to Mediapart. Michel Gaudin is the current chief of staff of Nicolas Sarkozy and, moreover, treasurer of ASANS since 2012.

The revelation of this case comes in addition to the other legal wrangling of the former head of state, who is living his political retreat under the threat of two trials: one for illegal financing of his presidential campaign of 2012 as part of the Bygmalion case, the second for alleged "influence peddling" and "corruption" of High Judge Gilbert Azibert. The holding of these trials is suspended at final decisions of the Court of Cassation.

In the Libyan case, he was indicted on 21 March 2018 for "passive bribery", "concealment of embezzlement of Libyan public funds" and "illegal campaign financing". Back in the judges' office on 4 June, he did not answer the questions of the magistrates, whose jurisdiction he challenged before the Court of Appeal.

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