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Sarkozy pal Nicolas Bazire charged with corruption

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy converse as they travel across New York Harbor to take part in a ceremony in anticipation of the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 in New York. UPI/Jason DeCrow/POOL
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy converse as they travel across New York Harbor to take part in a ceremony in anticipation of the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 in New York. UPI/Jason DeCrow/POOL | License Photo

PARIS, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The man who served as French President Nicolas Sarkozy's best man in 2008 was charged Thursday with funneling kickbacks into a 1995 presidential campaign.

Nicolas Bazire was the second Sarkozy ally to be arrested in two days in the case, Radio France Internationale reported. Thierry Gaubert, a longtime Sarkozy aide, was charged Wednesday with corruption involving the Pakistani arms deal.

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The president's office released a statement saying Sarkozy was not involved with the arms deal although he was the spokesman for the unsuccessful campaign of Edouard Balladur. Balladur, prime minister in 1995, lost the presidential race to Jacques Chirac. Bazire, who was best man at Sarkozy's wedding to Carla Bruni, was Balladur's campaign manager.

Bazire and Gaubert allegedly took kickbacks from the parties to an arms deal with Pakistan involving a contract for submarines and put the money in Balladur's campaign funds.

Investigators say a 2002 bombing in Karachi may have been carried out by officers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, angry because Chirac had canceled French payments to middlemen, depriving them of their cut.

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