So, remember the 10 million francs in 500 franc notes, that were meant to have come from passing round the hat at campaign rallies? Sure you do. Those will be the ones Nicolas Sarkozy personally banked in his capacity of treasurer to Edouard Balladur’s presidential campaign in 1995. Well, back in April, it was alleged that they originated from a large kickback paid as part of the deal under which France sold three submarines to Pakistan. Not good. Thanks to Mediapart, you can consult the original receipts here, as issued by the Boulevard Haussmann branch of CrÃ©dit du Nord.
Now, you may also recall that in 2002, terrorists blew up a busload of French engineers in Karachi, working on one of the boats. Everyone took this for an Al-Qa’ida or related job at the time, not surprisingly, but some people later began to doubt this. The latest news is that the judge investigating the affair, Renaud Van Ruymbeke has decided to inquire into the possibility that considerable sums of money were paid both to Pakistani officials to achieve the sale, and that some of this money made its way back to France and into the Balladur campaign’s accounts.
When Jacques Chirac beat both Balladur and the Socialists to the presidency in 1995, he ordered a stop to all the commissions paid as part of the contract. This was almost certainly out of revenge on Balladur for running in the first place, which implies he knew about the campaign funding. The whole affair seems to have turned on the vicious rivalry between the circle around Chirac and that around Balladur (and Nicolas Sarkozy). It’s also well worth remembering that the tiny but then influential Parti RÃ©publicain’s leaders were heavily involved in a whole succession of arms contracts a few years before this, which also involved the payment of large commissions and resulted in some of the commissions being paid back to important people in France.
If you want to know more, Mediapart has a sort of bible of the issue. You’ll need it.
So the president is accused of having cleared the creation of a special shell company and having banked the money himself. As well as the newspapers wanting him prosecuted for illegal wiretapping. And they’re demonstrating all over France.