PARIS: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is to face trial over the allegedly fraudulent financing of his doomed 2012 bid for re-election, a legal source told AFP on Tuesday.
The prosecution claims Sarkozy greatly exceeded a spending limit of 22.5 million euros ($24 million) by using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion.
The source said one of two judges in charge of the case, Serge Tournaire, had decided on February 3 that the case should go to trial after the failure of Sarkozy’s legal efforts to prevent it in December.
Bygmalion allegedly charged 18.5 million euros to Sarkozy’s rightwing party—which at the time was called the UMP, but has since been renamed the Republicans—instead of billing the president’s campaign. Executives from the company have acknowledged the existence of fraud and false accounting and the trial will focus on whether Sarkozy himself was aware or taking decisions about it.
Only one other president—Jacques Chirac—has been tried in France’s fifth republic, which was founded in 1958. He was give a two-year suspended jail term in 2011 over a fake job scandal.