France’s former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy charged with corruption

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is suspected of involvement in attempted bribery - CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters

France’s former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has been charged with corruption offences in connection with an investigation into alleged Libyan financing of her husband Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.

The 56-year-old was charged with hiding evidence and associating with wrongdoers to commit fraud, a judicial source confirmed.

She has been barred from being in contact with all those accused except her husband, the source said.

The singer is suspected of concealment of witness tampering and involvement in an attempt to bribe Lebanese judicial personnel, among other violations.

Her lawyers, Paul Mallet and Benoit Martinez, did not immediately comment.

The former president, who ran France between 2007 and 2012, was charged in October 2023 with illegal witness tampering as part of an investigation into whether he took money from Col Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan dictator, to fund his 2007 election campaign.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni
Nicolas Sarkozy met Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in 2007 and the pair married the following year - Daniele Venturelli

Investigators suspect several people, some close to Sarkozy, were involved in paying a key witness in that case to retract a statement he made incriminating the former president.

The Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine had claimed several times that he helped deliver up to 5 million ($5.4 million at current rates) in cash from Gaddafi to Sarkozy and his chief of staff in 2006 and 2007.

But in 2020, Takieddine suddenly retracted his incriminating statement, raising suspicions that Sarkozy and close allies may have paid the witness to change his mind.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy with her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, during a campaign meeting in Marseille in 2016
Authorities have suspected people close to the former president paid off a witness - Claude Paris/AP

Bruni-Sarkozy has already been questioned twice by investigators, first as a witness in June 2023, then as a suspect in early May.

An investigation showed Bruni-Sarkozy deleted all messages exchanged with the French “paparazzi queen” Michele Marchand on the day Marchand was charged with witness tampering in June 2021.

Authorities took an interest in Bruni-Sarkozy when Marchand justified her trips to the Sarkozy home as social calls with the singer.

The former president is set to stand trial in 2025 over the allegations that he conspired to take cash from the Libyan leader to illegally fund his subsequently victorious 2007 bid to become French president.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.