The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the main opposition party in France, is going through an unprecedented crisis that threatens its very survival twelve years after it foundation. Outrageous new data on the alleged involvement of Nicolas Sarkozy in corruption has made it worse for UMP survival. Phone recordings of the former leader of the party and former President of France (2007-2012) show his alleged influence peddling to evade justice.
The newspaper Le Monde on Saturday released phone recordings between Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. Its content was instrumental in the arrest and charging of both on 1 July. Sarkozy was accused of influence peddling, bribery and violation of secrets. Police were investigating whether Sarkozy and his lawyer received confidential information about an investigation of cases involving the former head of state, especially through Azibert magistrate Gilbert, member of the Supreme Court, where cases of illegal funding followed in Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007.
“Call him (the judge) to tell him that I am going to Monaco and I will see the prince,” he tells his lawyer on 5 January.
Indeed, Sarkozy visit 20 days later to Monaco and in a new contact with his lawyer, he says: ” You can tell [ the judge Azibert ] I’ll meet with the Minister of State.” On 25 February, Sarkozy talk to the Minister Michel Rocher, but then calls the lawyer and tells Herzog: “I preferred not to bring it up.”
Sarkozy talked to the lawyer using two different phones. One phone was allegedly purchased by lawyer under a fake name as supposedly someone had alerted him about the taping of phone. Police suspect that Sarkozy and his lawyer learned during the trip to Monaco about taping of phone so they corrected their intentions and kept the conversation in those terms.
It a crime, under French law, to promise a public position as a favour, regardless the person received the position or not. After the recordings, it will be very difficult for Sarkozy to come back in the French politics though he maintains that he is innocent and a victim of political manipulation.