Did Sarkozy fund '95 Presidential campaign with Pak submarine deal kickbacks?

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Paris, Jun.3 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy finds himself amidst a multi-million pound scandal with the Luxembourg police naming him as the owner of a company that handled the accounts of the sale of submarines to Pakistan in 1994.

An inquiry conducted by the Luxembourg police, revealed that Sarkozy 'directly supervised' the creation of a Luxembourg offshore company called Heine.

"Its purpose was to channel the secret payments," the inquiry report said.

The report has strengthened suspicions that money from the submarine contract with Islamabad was funneled to finance the 1995 presidential campaign, which was managed by Sarkozy, the then Budget Minister.

"Eventually, part of the funds that passed through Luxembourg came back to France to finance French political campaigns. In 1995, references lead us to believe in the existence of a form of retro-commission to pay for political campaigns in France," The News quoted the report, as saying.

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was also accused of receiving millions in kickbacks in the submarine deal.

According to reports, Zardari received 4.3 million dollars in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta 90 submarines for 825 million euros (approx. 1.237 billion dollars at current exchange rate).

The British authorities had told Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau that Zardari had received several large payments into his Swiss bank accounts from a Lebanese businessman, Abdulrahman el-Assir, during 1994 and 1995.

According to a former official of French naval defence company DCN, French authorities had selected Assir to act as intermediary in the deal.

He allegedly deposited a total of 1.3 million dollars in Zardari's bank accounts between August 15 and 30, 1994, a month before the submarine deal was finalised. An additional 1.2 million dollars and 1.8 million dollars were deposited in Zardari's account a year later.

Investigators also believe that the non-payment of the full amount of the agreed kickbacks may have led to the deaths of 11 French nationalsa in a suicide attack in Karachi in 2002. (ANI)

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