Who remembers that Édouard Balladur passed a law in 1995 to strictly regulate the financing of electoral campaigns? The person concerned, he will not have failed to recall it, Wednesday, January 20, before the Court of Justice of the Republic where he appeared in the case of the alleged hidden funding of his 1995 campaign (known as the “Karachi affair” , which we summarize here). “I would be a character of a singular perversity, if I had, at the same time, claimed to clean up our public life and tried to pollute it ”, he says. A rhetoric that we will not fail to send back to him in the event of conviction.
At 91, the former prime minister is accused of complicity in the abuse of corporate assets and concealment. Concretely, he would have benefited from retrocommissions taken from part of a military contract with Pakistan (the Agosta contract), relating to the sale of three attack submarines, to organize his failed campaign. An accusation that he denies en bloc.
His defense revolves around three main points. First, and it is not without recalling the argument of a fellow traveler of balladurism, Nicolas Sarkozy: the attack in order against the judges. In his introductory remarks, Édouard Balladur said all the bad things he thinks about a “An investigation against (him) and (him) alone” by magistrates at “Proven incompetence” who have “Persisted, on the basis of stories and rumors, to present (him) as the ‘great architect’ of a system organized for (his) profit”. Recall that the investigation has already led to the conviction of the small hands of this system in June 2020, including his former chief of staff Nicolas Bazire. However, this judgment is not final, as an appeal has been lodged.
Then there are the large sums of cash deposited at his campaign headquarters in April 1995, which could, according to the prosecution, correspond to the famous retrocommissions withdrawn from banks in Geneva through Ziad Takieddine. Édouard Balladur confines himself to asserting that “These sums came mainly from collections made during meetings and numerous campaign meetings”. This would represent 10.25 million francs in donations and sales of “Vive Doudou” T-shirts and pins…
Finally, the former cacique of the RPR takes refuge behind the fact that the Constitutional Council validated, in 1995, his campaign accounts. Problem: it has since been established that the Sages disguised the accounts of Édouard Balladur, which exceeded the legal amount of expenses, to cover at the same time those of Jacques Chirac, winner of the election who had also committed important irregularities.
“You can condemn me, I don’t care. “
François Léotard, 78, also on the dock, has played the card of contempt against the current procedure: “You can condemn me, I don’t care. “ Minister of Defense between 1993 and 1995, he is accused of having been the executor of Édouard Balladur, by imposing at the last minute, when the contract with Pakistan was already completed, the Takieddine network as an intermediary. Network copiously sprinkled with commissions and which would then be responsible for distributing the retrocommissions. François Léotard, retired from political life since the end of the 1990s, claims not to have been involved, at the time, with what he calls business “Grocer” but only large international files: “Bosnia, Rwanda”. The investigation showed that his former advisor Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, sentenced last June to five years in prison, two of which were suspended, had imposed the Takieddine network as a last-minute intermediary in the Agosta contract with Pakistan.