Karachi affair: Six men sentenced to prison over arms deal [Update Post #4]

Gabbar Singh

Test Debutant
Nov 11, 2007
Interesting theory.

A British woman acrimoniously divorcing a French millionaire arms broker could hold the key to the “Karachi affair” that threatens to poison the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

An investigating magistrate in the case yesterday questioned Nicola Johnson, 50, who is estranged from Ziad Takieddine, a Franco-Lebanese businessman and her husband of 30 years.

She alleges that Mr Takieddine, a middle man in huge arms and petrol contracts between France and several Middle Eastern countries, has hidden his true fortune in a web of offshore accounts.

She is demanding a €25 million (£22 million) cut of his estate, which her lawyer estimates to be €104 million. However, Mr Takieddine declares only relatively modest earnings of around €200,000 per year.

Despite making use of a string of opulent properties, whose value in France alone is estimated to be €40 million, it is alleged that he paid no income or wealth tax in the country last year.

Miss Johnson, about whom little is known, is fighting a 2009 French court ruling that provides her with just €1,000 per month in alimony.

“[He] has put in place a highly sophisticated system to hide his revenues and his real assets to French authorities,” her lawyer, William Bourdon, alleged yesterday. “He long claimed that the majority of his assets didn’t belong to him and that he only had temporary use of them as part of a work contract,” he told Libération newspaper. Earlier this month, a French family court judge ordered all assets that Mr Takieddine held “in common” with his wife to be frozen because of the risk of him selling them off before an appeal ruling on Sept 15.

These assets include Warwick House, in Holland Park, west London, estimated to be worth more than £17 million, and a palatial Paris pied-à-terre in the chic Avenue Georges-Mandel worth an estimate €12 million, whose nominal owner is one Alain F., Mr Takieddine’s butler.

The judge mentions properties in Antibes on the Riviera, and money from the sale of other Paris flats and the couple’s private jet.

Mr Takieddine itemised assets worth €97.2 million in a statement he signed in 2008 as part of a loan application, since obtained by Mediapart, an investigative news website.

Against the backdrop of this marital dispute, French judges hope to lift the lid on Mr Takieddine’s alleged role in the “Karachi affair” – a political funding scandal involving alleged kickbacks on a 1994 arms sale to Pakistan and the death of French naval engineers in a bomb attack.

Examining magistrates opened an inquiry last year into the submarine sale, and another involving frigates to Saudi Arabia. They are looking into whether some of the large sums officially destined as commissions to officials served as illegal party funding in France.

Seized documents allege that parts of the “commissions” – legal under French law at the time – were siphoned off to help fund the 1994 presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur, then prime minister. Mr Sarkozy was his budget minister and campaign spokesman. Both men have flatly denied allegations of involvement. Mr Sarkozy has previously described suggestions of his involvement in illegal kickbacks as “grotesque, ridiculous and a fable”.

When Jacques Chirac won the election, it is alleged that he punished Mr Balladur by halting the remaining payments to senior Pakistani figures.

Mr Takieddine acknowledges receiving payment from a sale of frigates to Saudi Arabia, a contract authorised in 1994 by Mr Sarkozy. Documents obtained by Mediapart suggest he received €91 million between 1997 and 1998. France also signed a deal that year to sell three submarines to Pakistan. Several witnesses have told the magistrates that Mr Takieddine was imposed by the Balladur camp as an intermediary. He denies any role.

In May 2002, 11 French submarine engineers and four Pakistanis were killed in a bomb attack in Karachi, blamed on al-Qaeda terrorists. But a separate investigation is under way into whether it was a revenge attack by disgruntled officials for the non-payment of sweeteners.

Yesterday judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke was expected to quiz Miss Johnson on her husband’s professional movements and way of life at the time of the submarine deal. He was also expected to ask about her knowledge of where he placed his fortune. The affair is embarrassing for the president as Mr Takieddine is close to several of his nearest allies. Mediapart recently published photos of the head of his UMP party, Jean-François Copé, at Mr Takieddine’s Riviera property.

Mr Takieddine said he had “no comment”. “Let’s wait for justice to run its course and it will all fizzle out,” he said.

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Very interesting. Arms dealer you say. In the recent attack at the shopkeepers of kabari market in sher shah karachi, onlookers of the incident say that the arms and weapon used by the killers who opened fire at the shopkeepers, were nothing they have ever seen before.

Kabari market at sher shah is famous for used accessories from car accessories to guns and weapons and almost everything. The incident was something very off as it is mainly a pashtun dominated area but most of the shops over there are owned by urdu speaking, but still, there was no ethnic tension over there.
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Six jailed in Paris over ‘Karachi affair’

A Paris court on Monday found three former French government officials and three others guilty of involvement in millions of euros in kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed in 1994.

The court handed the men prison sentences of two to five years over the so-called “Karachi affair” that has dogged former prime minister Edouard Balladur, who is facing trial on charges that he used the kickbacks to help fund his failed 1995 presidential bid.

These were the first convictions to emerge from the sprawling investigation named after the Pakistani city, where a bus carrying French defence engineers was blown up in 2002, killing 15 people. Al Qaeda was initially suspected of the attack, but the focus later shifted to the arms deals on suspicions the bombing may have been in retaliation for non-payment of promised bribes.

The three former aides are Nicolas Bazire, Balladur’s former campaign manager; Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, a former adviser to his defence minister Francois Leotard; and Thierry Gaubert, a former aide to then budget minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Bazire and Donnedieu de Vabres were ordered to spend three years in prison, with the court saying Bazire “knew perfectly well” that 10.25 million francs (nearly 1.6 million euros) from dubious sources had landed in Balladur’s campaign accounts.

Gaubert was handed a two-year sentence, as was Dominique Castellan, a former head of the international division of French naval defence contractor DCN (since renamed as the Naval Group).

Two Lebanese middlemen who allegedly acted as go-betweens for the bribes and kickbacks, Ziad Takieddine and Abdul Rahman El-Assir, were ordered to spend five years in prison. The two middlemen refused to appear at trial, and warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Balladur, 90, and Leotard, 77, have also been charged in the case. They are to be tried in the coming months by the Court of Justice of the Republic, a tribunal that hears cases of alleged misconduct by government ministers.

Balladur lost the 1995 presidential contest to Jacques Chirac, who ended the payment of all remaining commissions on the arms deals.

That prompted speculation that the 2002 Karachi bombing was revenge for the lost payouts, but the theory was dismissed by France’s DGSI counter-terrorism agency last year, saying an attack by Islamic insurgents remained the most likely scenario.

Takieddine, one of the middlemen, is a French-Lebanese businessman with a history of ties to conservative French politicians, including Sarkozy.

In 2016, Takieddine rocked the French establishment by claiming he delivered millions of euros in cash from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi for Sarkozy’s successful presidential bid in 2007.

Sarkozy was charged in 2018 with taking bribes and illegal campaign financing, accusations he has denied. A Paris appeals court is set to hear Sarkozy’s legal challenge to the inquiry in September, sources told AFP this month.

Always seemed like French are the most corrupt among developed European countries, irrespective they are a great ally to us but damn!

also on below

2002 Karachi bombing was revenge for the lost payouts?? Has Pakistan even investigated that?
Always seemed like French are the most corrupt among developed European countries, irrespective they are a great ally to us but damn!

also on below

2002 Karachi bombing was revenge for the lost payouts?? Has Pakistan even investigated that?

I wouldn't call them a "great ally" given that they sell arms to both India and Pakistan.
Always seemed like French are the most corrupt among developed European countries, irrespective they are a great ally to us but damn!

also on below

2002 Karachi bombing was revenge for the lost payouts?? Has Pakistan even investigated that?

french are second nation on the earth after US knows how to milk most of the countries in arms sells. they sell thre overhyped product with huge price tag, same can be said about thre submarines,
other nations offer reasonable price list ....

we have done our investigation mainly on mansurul haq corruption , but about bomb blast we didnt find any conclusive evidence of french hands .....