Former French interior minister Claude Gueant was taken into custody on Friday in connection with a probe into the alleged financing by Muammar Gaddafi\’s Libya of Nicolas Sarkozy\’s 2007 presidential election campaign.
Investigators discovered a 500,000 euro ($540,000) transfer in Gueant\’s bank account during a raid in February 2013.
Gueant, who was Sarkozy\’s right-hand man for a decade, claimed the money was the proceeds of the sale of two 17th-century Flemish paintings to a Malaysian lawyer.
But art experts challenged the evidence, saying the highest price fetched at an auction by a painting by the artist, Andries van Eertvelt, was around 140,000 euros.
Accusations that Sarkozy\’s successful 2007 campaign was financed by Gaddafi\’s Libya emerged after the first round of voting in the 2012 election, when the Mediapart website published a document setting out an arrangement for 50 million euros to be paid to the campaign.
Sarkozy says the document is a forgery.
The centre-right politician lost the 2012 election to Socialist Francois Hollande.