France’s ex-first lady supermodel Carla Bruni is charged over husband Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign case

France’s ex-first lady supermodel Carla Bruni is charged over husband Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign case

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FORMER French first lady Carla Bruni has been charged with several corruption offences that could see her going to prison.

The supermodel, 56, was allegedly part of a criminal conspiracy to whitewash her husband, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, 69, over allegations that he accepted millions in cash from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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Carla Bruni was charged over husband Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign case[/caption]

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The supermodel, 56, could face going to prison[/caption]

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She was allegedly ‘placed under judicial supervision and banned from contacting all those involved in the case’ apart from Sarkozy[/caption]

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Bruni has been reportedly cooperating with French authorities[/caption]

On Tuesday, a judicial source in Paris said Bruni was being prosecuted in relation to “witness tampering and fraud in an organised gang” after she was questioned at length by examining magistrates all day.

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

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.

The supermodel was allegedly “placed under judicial supervision and banned from contacting all those involved in the case” apart from her husband, the source told AFP.

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

There was no initial comment from the ex-first lady, who has been cooperating with agents from France’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial and Tax Offenses.

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

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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.

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


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Bruni was reportedly questioned at length by examining magistrates all day on Tuesday, a source claimed[/caption]

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Bruni has continually denied any involvement in ‘Operation Save Sarko’[/caption]

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

Sarkozy allegedly 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.

“Operation Save Sarko” is running in tandem with the Libyan funding case, in which Sarkozy has already been indicted.

Takieddine, who is currently in Lebanon, 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 said: “When people talk to me about it, it puts me in a situation of anger and indignation which does not help my husband.’

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Bruni added:  “I don’t have the beginnings of the slightest curiosity about my husband’s affairs.”

But detectives say Bruni deleted all of the messages she had exchanged with Marchand on the encrypted Signal app, before Marchand’s indictment in June 2021.

It has also emerged that when Marchand travelled to Beirut to see Takieddine in October 2020, at the height of the worldwide Covid crisis, Bruni helped “fix” a positive medical test for her.

“It is alleged that this would help Marchand in the Save Sarko operation,” said an investigating source.

One of Bruni’s security guards sent her a text at the time, saying: “Madame, this is a matter settled for Tuesday morning, 48 hours before their departure for Lebanon.”

According to Mediapart investigative news site, Sarkozy himself told detectives as recently as October: “My wife helps Ms. Marchand as she does her friend a favour so that she can go on a trip.”

Sarkozy continued: “You ask me if Carla Bruni knew about the trip to Lebanon? Yes, I can’t dispute it, but was she aware that Mr. Takieddine was sentenced to prison? No. Did she know he had run away, or was in Beirut? No.”

Like Marchand, Takieddine is said to have numerous celebrity contacts, and has even claimed to be Amal Clooney’s uncle.

During dealing with French courts in April 2014, Takieddine asked for a supervision order to be lifted so that he could attend a London party in honour of the marriage of his “niece”, then called Amal Alamuddin, to American actor George Clooney.

Takieddine has cited his family relationship with Amal Clooney – who was born in Beirut – on a number of occasion since, although Ms Clooney has not confirmed it.

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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 campign for re-election.

His lawyers had asked the Paris Appeal Court to revoke one-year in jail, with six months suspended, but judges ruled no.

It followed a five-week trial at the city’s Correctional Court three years ago, when Sarkozy 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.

In March 2021, Sarkozy was also convicted of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended.

Sarkozy’s conservative predecessor as President of France, the late Jacques Chirac, received a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for corruption, but this related to his time as Mayor of Paris.

The last French head of state to go to a prison cell was Marshall Philippe Pétain, the wartime Nazi collaborator.

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Sarkozy is due to go on trial next year[/caption]

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