Edouard Balladur (right) and Francois Leotard

4 March 2021
Former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur was acquitted by a French court on charges of corruption over the sale of submarines to Pakistan navy in the mid 1990s. He was accused of using kickbacks from the deal to his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1995.

But his former defense minister, Francois Leotard, was handed down a suspended jail term of two years and a fine of $129,000 for his complicity in misusing funds.

Prosecutors alleged that the commissions totaled 117 million euros, some of which was funneled into Balladur’s campaign funds. A deposit of 10.25 million francs in cash was made into Balladur’s campaign account three days after his electoral defeat in 1995. The money came from cash withdrawals in Switzerland made by a Lebanese-French intermediary who took commissions on the arms deals. Ziad Takieddine fled to Lebanon last June after a Paris court sentenced him and another middleman, Abdul Rahman El-Assir, to five years in prison over their role in the “Karachi” kickbacks.

Takieddine has also claimed (and later retracted) that he delivered suitcases stuffed with cash from Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi to Sarkozy’s chief of staff to help with the ex-president’s 2007 presidential campaign. This is under investigation.

Then-French President Jacques Chirac ordered the payments of the commissions to Pakistan to stop. This was followed by 11 French engineers being killed in a bombing in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2002. Pakistani authorities blamed Islamist militants, but later it was found that it was an act of revenge after the stoppage of commission.

Chirac himself was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money as Paris mayor and given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

A week ago ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted for bribery and influence peddling. He was handed a three-year prison sentence. The sentence includes two years suspended and the remaining one year would be converted into a non-custodial sentence. That means Sarkozy will not be in a prison.

Yahoo News reported.