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France

Former Sarkozy aide detained for questioning over controversial payout to businesman

Former interior minister, Claude Guéant.
Former interior minister, Claude Guéant. Reuters/files

Claude Guéant, a former right-hand man to Nicolas Sarkozy, was detained by police on Monday morning over his role in a controversial state payout to French tycoon Bernard Tapie.

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France's fraud squad placed Guéant in custody as an enquiry attempts to clarify his role in a 400 million euro payout to Tapie in 2008.

The payment is connected to a dispute between Tapie and the partly state-owned bank Crédit Lyonnais. 

Tapie claimed that the bank intentionally undervalued the sale of its sportswear group, Adidas in 1993.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Gueant is suspected of playing a key role during the arbitration to compensate Tapie - 400 million euros -, as a reward for Tapie's support for Sarkozy in the presidential elections in 2007.

IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, Sarkozy's finance minister at the time of the payout, has also been implicated in the inquiry.

She denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged in connection with the affair but last year was placed under a special witness status by investigators.

Tapie - who felt he had been defrauded by Credit Lyonnais - makes no secret of his attempts to raise awareness about his case among, he says, both right and left wing politicians.

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