Sarkozy, Gaddafi, and Passive Corruption


EuroNews reports today that

PARIS (Reuters) – Judges in France placed former French president Nicolas Sarkozy under formal investigation on Wednesday over allegations of illegal campaign financing, a judicial source said.

Sarkozy was released from under judicial supervision after two days of questioning over allegations that his 2007 election campaign received funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the source said.

He is being investigated for illicit campaign financing, misappropriation of Libyan public funds and passive corruption, the source said confirming a report in Le Monde newspaper.

I wondered what passive corruption was – perhaps it meant not speaking up when something that is obviously intended as a bribe is given as a gift.

The Lexology website describes how the Anti-corruption Law on Transparency, the Fight against Corruption and the Modernisation of the Economy (the Sapin II Law) introduced in 2016, operates:

The Criminal Code distinguishes between active and passive corruption:

Articles 433-1 and following of the Criminal Code criminalise active corruption when a person, either directly or indirectly, unlawfully induces or attempts to induce a public official to accept a bribe by proffering an offer, promise, donation, gift or reward.
Articles 432-11 and following punish passive corruption, which is characterised as when a public official, either directly or indirectly, solicits a bribe by requesting or accepting without right any offer, promise, donation, gift and advantage by another person.

It seems to me that 432-11 must be hard to prosecute. What is to distinguish a donation or a gift of support from a bribe if there is no concomitant promise?

I see some of the wilder accusations are that Sarkozy had Gaddafi killed to stop him revealing the connection.

Update 31 March 2019

I just re-read this and wondered what had happened since March 2018. The Financial Times reported last October that a Paris court rejected an appeal by Sarkozy against a decision to have him stand trial and that his lawyer said the ruling would be appealed to France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation.

It also gave details of the claim by a Ziad Takieddine, who claimed to be a middleman in the alleged transaction, that he had took €5m in cash from Tripoli to Paris in 2006 and passed it to Sarkozy’s then chief of staff, Claude Guéant.

There is another thread to this, which is that in 2012 Mediapart magazine published a document purportedly signed by a senior figure in Libya in 2006 that showed that Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign was partly funded by Gaddafi.

Sarkozy claimed the document was false and in January this year (2019) the Cour de Cassation ruled against Sarkozy’s appeal to have the document rejected as false.