The Takieddine files
From mid-July 2011, Mediapart began the publication of a lengthy series of investigations into the activities of Paris-based Franco-Lebanese arms dealer and business intermediary Ziad Takieddine, the principal suspect in an ongoing judicial investigation into suspected illegal political funding via French arms sales abroad, and which is known as the ‘Karachi Affair’. Mediapart’s investigations revealed Takieddine’s intimate dealings with the close entourage of then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and notably his role as a secret diplomatic intermediary.
Takieddine gained most of his immense wealth from commissions paid to him from French weapons sales, beginning under the government of French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, in the mid-1990s, and latterly from contracts negotiated by Nicolas Sarkozy’s inner political team, before and after the latter became president.
The thousands of documents to which Mediapart gained access throw a clear light on Takieddine’s relationships with Sarkozy’s team, and the role he played, up until the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, in France’s rapprochement with the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
1. Takieddine and his friends in high places. Several previously unpublished photos illustrate what were until then unknown - and for some of those involved, secret – links between the arms dealer and the closed circle of the French president’s most trusted staff and allies.
2. A well-hidden fortune. Ziad Takieddine’s wealth originates from secret commissions amounting to $130 million paid to him for the sales in the mid-1990s of French Agosta submarines to Pakistan and La Fayette frigates to Saudi Arabia under the government of then-prime minister Edouard Balladur. After making his fortune through the contracts, he began leading a high-flying lifestyle in France and abroad, but with his wealth stashed in offshore companies and accounts he paid no taxes in France, where he was domiciled.
3. Protected by French intelligence. Arms dealer and business intermediary Ziad Takieddine not only had highly privileged relations with the inner circle of Nicolas Sarkozy’s political aides, he also enjoyed favoured treatment from the French intelligence service, the DGSE.
4. Saudi Arabia and the Miksa project.The ‘Saudi Border Guards Developpment Project ‘, codenamed ‘Miska’, was a contract estimated to be worth 7 billion euros for the supply by French companies of technology and material to ensure the security of Saudi Arabia’s national borders. Ziad Takieddine was destined to be paid 350 million euros in 2003 in secret commission payments for his role as intermediary.
5. Libya: when Takieddine played the role of secret emissary (2005-2009). In 2005, the Sarkozy clan lost all hope of signing the Miksa contract after they were blocked by the intervention of Sarkozy’s fellow conservative rival and then-president Jacques Chirac. So they turned to the Libyan regime of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in an attempt to sell contracts in the fields of weapons and energy.
6. Takieddine and Total in Libya. Ziad Takieddine was paid almost 7 million euros by French oil and gas giant Total, on the sidelines of a gas contract agreed with the Libyan regime of Colonol Muammar Gaddafi. The payment was made under the supervision of Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie. The deal was actively supported by the presidential office of Nicolas Sarkozy.
7. Syria and a secret diplomacy (2007-2009). Between 2007 and 2009, Ziad Takieddine was the key figure in a process of rapprochement between France and Syria, and was also the go-between who introduced French President Nicolas Sarkozy to his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad.