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Former French interior min. charged with tax evasion, forgery

French authorities suspect Claude Gueant's sale of art to be cover-up for money laundering.

Former French interior min. charged with tax evasion, forgery


France’s former interior minister Claude Gueant has been charged with tax evasion and forgery in connection with investigations over Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign.

Gueant, 70, was taken into custody on March 6 for the unexplained presence of 500,000 euros ($544,000) in his bank account during Nicolas Sarkozy’s term as president. 

It was discovered that Gueant had not reported the money, which was transferred from overseas. 

Gueant served as Elysee chief of staff, as well as interior minister, during Sarkozy’s presidency. 

Addressing accusations, Gueant told a lawyer that the money had come from the sale of paintings by 17th century artist Andries Van Eertvelt. 

"I made the deal under personal circumstances, but I am not an art investor," Gueant said.   

French judicial authorities suspect the sale to be a cover-up for money laundering.

Following his detention, Gueant stood in front of a judge on Saturday, where he denied all charges.  

Gueant's lawyer Philippe Bouchez el-Ghozi told reporters that his client was "interrogated for 30 hours and was asked almost 300 questions that mainly focused on the so-called Libyan funding."

Following 2012 claims that the late Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi had financed Sarkozy’s election campaign, police found evidence documenting suspicious money transfers during a search of Gueant’s house.

Gaddafi was killed following an uprising in 2011.

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