Nicolas Sarkozy calls influence peddling accusations 'grotesque'

After being released from questioning over a corruption and influence peddling probe, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the accusations are "grotesque."

He was picked up by investigators on Tuesday and held for questioning, along with his lawyer Theirry Herzog and Gilbert Azibert, a magistrate.

Sarkozy is under formal investigation over claims that he used his position as president to keep abreast of a case back in 2007 regarding accusations he accepted illegal campaign donations from then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Once released, Sarkozy spoke with French broadcaster TF! and said he was "profoundly shocked" that he was detained for questioning, The New York Times reports. "The situation was sufficiently grave for me to tell the French people about the political exploitation of a part of the justice system today."

While saying that the anticorruption investigation claims are "grotesque," Sarkozy also let it be known he was furious that his private conversations with his counsel were recorded.

Should Sarkozy eventually be brought up on charges for influence peddling, the former president of France could see the inside of a prison cell for five years and also have to pay a $684,000 fine.

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