Former French interior minister Claude Guéant has denied accusations that he laundered half a million euros donated by the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign.
On Tuesday Guéant, who was serving as Sarkozy's chief of staff at the time, was forced to explain the origins of money deposited into his bank account that were discovered during an ongoing investigation.
Guéant told Canal+ TV that he has documentation to prove that the half-million-euro deposit into his bank account came from the sale of two paintings from his collection, and not from Libya.
"I have never laundered money, " he said. "I don't know how to. "
Guéant claimed that he sold two paintings by 17th-century Flemish master Andries van Eertvelt to a "Malaysian colleague".
Evidence of the money turned up during a search of Guéant's home and office by investigators who are looking into claims by Franco-Libyan businessman Ziad Takieddine that Kadhafi helped finance Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign.
The investigators also found evidence of large cash deposits in Guéant's account when he was working for Sarkozy who was interior minister himself at the time.
Guéant said that money, totalling 20-25,000 euros, came from bonuses and that everyone working in the ministry at the time received their bonuses in cash.