Had former French president Nicolas Sarkozy won reelection, he certainly would not be under investigation for illegally funding his campaign, nor there would be an investigation regarding his involvement in fraudulent arms sales to Pakistan.
Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing to move to London to set up a billion pounds plus investment fund, it was claimed today.
If the move goes ahead, the controversial Frenchman will become the latest to escape a potential top tax rate of 75 per cent in his home country.
He and his former supermodel third wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy would be likely to settle in an affluent district like South Kensington – so becoming the most high profile Gallic celebrity couple in the city.
But the former president is under investigation for corruption in France, and if he does cross the Channel there will be outrage.
Details of the planned move were uncovered during a raid by fraud police on Sarkozy’s Paris mansion last June.
It came within weeks of Mr Sarkozy losing his immunity against prosecution after being defeated by Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the May presidential election.
Now the hugely respected investigative news site Mediapart reports that the ‘first draft’ of Mr Sarkozy’s London project was found by detectives examining his computer files.
Mr Sarkozy is said to have taken the money from Liliane Bettencourt, the I’ Oreal heiress – a claim the politician denies, but for which he could still receive a prison sentence.
He is also being investigated over numerous other funding scandals, including one linked to arms sales to Pakistan, and another in which he is said to have used millions in taxpayers’ money to pay friends to produce opinion polls while he was in office.
Mediapart suggests that the planned London move would create a ‘conflict of interest’ – not only because Sarkozy is being investigated, but because a former French president should not choose the UK as a base to make his fortune.
On Tuesday night, France was rife with speculation – hotly denied [Not Really - at least by Sarkozy - Mish] that Nicolas Sarkozy plans to set up a £800 million private equity fund across the Channel in London.
The former French president, who left office in June, has been using his new job as a highly paid international conference speaker to try and stump up capital for the new venture, according to Mediapart, the respected investigative website.
Mediapart said the former leader's plan to launch a private equity fund in London is currently in the "exploratory" stage and that no company has yet been officially created.
Sources close to Mr Sarkozy dismissed the alleged plan as an "intellectual construction", with one telling The Daily Telegraph the former leader "does not confirm anything in the article". [No Confirmation, but No Denial either - Mish]
However, the website cited "very precise financial and industry sources" as saying plans are definitely afoot.
With the help of Alain Minc, a businessman and confidant, Mr Sarkozy has since October been seeking to recruit investors during a string of conferences, the first two for Brazilian group PTB Pactual, which has a large private equity arm.
Yesterday, Mr Minc denied playing any role in creating such a fund.
"It is absurd to think he would move to London and stop paying taxes in France." "Nicolas Sarkozy doesn't need me to meet the world's biggest funds," he told Le Figaro. "He has a thousand contacts and hasn't made up his mind about what he wants to do."
[The statement by Minc is not exactly a denial either - Mish].
Laurent Mauduit the Mediapart journalist who wrote the article, said: "I note Minc denies things I never wrote." "I never said he would physically move to London but planned to set up his company there," he told The Daily Telegraph.
Sarkozy Neither Confirms, Nor Denies Story
Notice that Sarkozy did not confirm anything in the Mediapart article, but did not deny anything either.
Minc's statement "He has a thousand contacts and hasn't made up his mind about what he wants to do" is certainly plausible. So is his statement "Nicolas Sarkozy doesn't need me to meet the world's biggest funds." Neither is a denial of anything.
Evidence suggests Sarkozy is indeed planning a move to the UK, probably for multiple reasons.