Nicolas Sarkozy: French ex-president ‘to face trial’ over campaign finances

File photo: Nicolas SarkozyMr Sarkozy led France from 2007-2012

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is to stand trial in an illegal campaign finance case, judicial sources say.

Mr Sarkozy faces accusations that his party falsified accounts in order to hide 22.5m euros (£19m; $24m) of campaign spending in 2012.

Mr Sarkozy has repeatedly denied that he was aware of the overspending.

He lost the 2012 race to Francois Hollande, and failed in his bid to run again in this year’s upcoming presidential election.

What case?

The case is known as the Bygmalion scandal.

It centres on claims that Mr Sarkozy’s party, then known as the UMP, connived with a friendly PR company to hide the true cost of his 2012 presidential election campaign.

France sets limits on campaign spending, and it is alleged the firm Bygmalion invoiced Mr Sarkozy’s party rather than the campaign, allowing the UMP to exceed the limit.

Employees at Bygmalion have admitted knowledge of the ruse and several UMP members already face charges.

This trial is expected to focus on whether Mr Sarkozy himself was aware of the alleged fraud.

Mr Sarkozy is the second French president to be put on trial since 1958, when the current French republic was established.

Former leader Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2011 for diverting public funds and abusing public trust.

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