France's Sarkozy could face trial over fraud allegation

Prosecutors recommend former French president -- currently running for 2017 election -- face trial over 2012 funding claims

France's Sarkozy could face trial over fraud allegation

World Bulletin / News Desk

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a blow to his 2017 re-election hopes Monday after prosecutors recommended he stand trial over an alleged multimillion-euro fraud.

The Paris prosecutor’s office requested the referral of Sarkozy and 13 others indicted in connection with the so-called Bygmalion affair for trial over illegal financing of the 2012 presidential election campaign, Europe 1 radio reported on Monday.

Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation in February this year and faced preliminary charges of alleged illegal campaign financing.

This was connected to an invoice system his party and a public relations firm named Bygmalion allegedly used to conceal unauthorized overspending during campaign events in the run-up to the 2012 contest.

France’s Constitutional Council ruled in 2013 that Sarkozy had exceeded spending limits for his 2012 election campaign. It said Sarkozy filed expenses of nearly 23 million euros ($25.6 million), 2.1 percent more than is allowed under French law.

If convicted, the former president and his aides could face a maximum prison sentence of a year and a 3,750-euro ($4,185) fine.

However, it will be another month -- just days before presidential primaries of Sarkozy's Republicans party, held on Nov. 20 and 27 -- before judges decide whether the case should proceed to trial. Even if the case goes ahead it is not certain that Sarkozy will be among the accused.

If the case goes to court and Sarkozy were to be elected president in May, he cannot be tried during his mandate but only afterwards, starting from 2022.

Last Mod: 05 Eylül 2016, 14:46
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