French prosecutors said Friday they have opened a probe into alleged influence-peddling against former president Nicolas Sarkozy, adding a new legal woe for an ex-leader already mired in judicial troubles.
The probe opened by France’s PNF financial prosecutors concerns advisory activities undertaken by Sarkozy in Russia, the PNF told AFP, confirming news published by the Mediapart news site.
Mediapart said the probe targeted a payment by Russian insurance firm Reso-Garantia of 3 million euros (3.6 million) in 2019 while Sarkozy was working as an advisor, well after leaving office.
The probe is just the latest legal headache for Sarkozy, who nonetheless remains popular among the right in France despite only holding onto the presidency for one term.
A court will on March 1 give its verdict in a separate corruption trial, with Sarkozy risking a jail sentence of up to four years.
He remains charged over allegations that he received millions of euros in funding from Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi and is also accused of fraudulently overspending on his failed 2012 reelection bid.
Vowed to clear his name
The rightwinger, who led France from 2007 to 2012, had insisted at a hearing in his graft trial that he „never committed the slightest act of corruption“ and vowed to go „all the way“ to clear his name.
French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine also reported on Wednesday that his former wife Cecilia was paid as a parliamentary assistant in 2002, but cast doubt on whether she had worked to justify her salary.
His long-running legal travails helped sink his comeback bid for the 2017 presidential vote, but Sarkozy has surfed on a wave of popularity since announcing his retirement from politics in 2018, pressing the flesh with enthusiastic crowds at public appearances.
Lines of fans queued over last summer to have him sign his latest memoir „The Time of Storms“, which topped best-seller lists for weeks.