Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy told magistrates that accusations of illicit Libyan funding for his 2007 election campaign were a web of lies that had made his life “hell” and lost him a re-election bid in 2012, Le Figaro newspaper said.

The 63-year-old, who held power from 2007 to 2012, was told by investigators after two days of questioning in police custody on Wednesday he was formally suspected of passive corruption, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

At issue is a murky affair of Libyan spies, arms dealers and allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi provided Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign with millions of euros shipped to Paris in suitcases – allegations Sarkozy has always denied.

The newspaper published a lengthy account of what it said was a verbatim declaration by Sarkozy.

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