Top former Sarkozy aide given preliminary charges amid suspicion of campaign funding by Libya

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PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-chief of staff has been handed preliminary charges in an investigation into suspected illegal funding of Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign by late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Claude Gueant denies any wrongdoing, saying on RTL radio Monday: "Nothing in the case is proof of the crimes that I'm accused of."

An official for the financial prosecutor's office confirmed that Gueant has been given preliminary charges of money laundering and forgery. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Investigators suspect that a 500,000-euro ($545,000) sale of two 17th-century Flemish paintings by Gueant could be linked to illegal campaign funds.

An investigation into corruption was opened in 2013 after reports of Libyan funding emerged. Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.

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