Sarkozy Is Said to Be Quizzed in French Campaign Finance Probe

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(Bloomberg) -- Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning by police in an investigation into suspected illegal financing of his successful 2007 campaign, a person familiar with the matter said.

A special financial crimes unit questioned Sarkozy Tuesday morning in Nanterre, near Paris, the first time the former head of state has spoken to investigators in a probe that began in 2013. The police can hold him for 48 hours before deciding whether to press charges or release him. The detention was first reported by newspaper Le Monde.

Sarkozy retired from politics -- for the second time -- in late 2016 after placing a distant third in the primary to be the candidate of the center-right Republicans. He’s remained active behind the scenes as his party looks to rebuild after failing to make the second round of the 2017 presidential elections. He also speaks occasionally to President Emmanuel Macron, according to French press reports.

Parisian investigative judges began tapping Sarkozy’s phone in 2013 as part of an investigation into whether he received funds from Muammar Qaddafi’s former regime in Libya ahead of the May 2007 election. Sarkozy first retired from politics after failing to win re-election in 2012.

Calls to Sarkozy’s office and to his spokeswoman weren’t immediately returned. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, asked on RMC Radio about Le Monde’s report, said he would have no comment on the legal process.

Sarkozy 2012’s campaign is also under investigation for allegedly falsifying receipts to get around spending limits.

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