In France, prosecutors began to check ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy for possible involvement in corrupt deals with Qatar, as a result of which Qatar received the right to host the World Cup in 2022. The British Daily Telegraph learned this from sources close to the French government. Investigators are investigating several major deals between France and Qatar, one source said, including the sale of a French utility to Qatar, the sale of 5% of the French Veolia to Qatari state investment fund Qatari Diar, and the sale of a controlling stake in Paris Saint-Germain football club to Oryx Qatar Sports Investments. …
France has been one of the strongest supporters of awarding Qatar the right to host the World Cup, despite the fact that the country’s climate is not suitable for sports events in summer, when temperatures exceed 40 degrees, the Telegraph notes (retelling of the Independent). After high-ranking FIFA officials, who were suspected of corruption, were detained in Switzerland in May 2015 at the request of the United States, the Swiss prosecutor’s office began to investigate the choice of Russia and Qatar as host countries of the world championships. In April 2017, it became known that the French prosecutor’s office also began checking these elections.
Sarkozy has long been friends with Veolia top manager Sébastien Bazin, who was a shareholder in Paris Saint-Germain through the Colony Capital fund, which then ceded the club’s shares to a Qatari investment fund. He is also close to other current and former Veolia managers, writes Telegraph. Investigators are interested in the fate of 182 million euros, which were lost as a result of the deal with Veolia. Sources say the investigation does not rule out that the money went to bribe sports officials who determined the countries of the world championships. The investigation also finds out whether Sarkozy could have gotten anything from these transactions and whether he knew about any unseemly or illegal transactions related to the choice of Qatar as the host country for the 2022 World Cup.
The French Financial Prosecutor’s Office is conducting two separate preliminary investigations into the Veolia deal and the elections of the country that will host the 2022 World Cup, a spokeswoman for the department said. These investigations are not yet linked. Sarkozy is not formally and personally the target of the investigation, she said. Former president’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, has denied his client’s involvement in corrupt deals.
Nicolas Sarkozy was President of France from 2007 to 2012. In 2011, Qatar Sports Investments bought 70% of Paris Saint-Germain, and in 2012 the Qatari fund consolidated 100% of the club. Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010.
After leaving the presidency, Sarkozy became a defendant in several investigations related to the sources of funding for his election campaign. In particular, investigators checked whether billionaire Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of the L’Oreal empire, was legally transferring money to Sarkozy’s campaign. This case was closed for lack of evidence. Allegations that Sarkozy may have illegally obtained campaign funds from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were then investigated. According to media reports, Sarkozy could have received $ 50 million from the leader of the Libyan Jamahirniya for the campaign in 2007.Then this was confirmed by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who said that Gaddafi personally told him that he had given the Frenchman $ 100 million. In July 2014, Sarkozy was was detained – the ex-French president was detained for the first time in history – and he was charged that he illegally used his position and connections to obtain information about the investigations that were carried out against him.