Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France who served from 2007 to 2012, is facing a trial on Thursday over alleged illegal financing for his failed reelection campaign in 2012, a scandal that has shaken up the French Republicans’ Party.
66-year-old Sarkozy is charged over claims that his 2012 campaign expenditures were nearly double the legal amount of $27.5 million (EUR 22.5 million).
Back then he failed to get reelected, and the presidential vote was won by Socialist Francois Hollande.
Former President faces jail time
The former President denies wrongdoing but in case of a guilty verdict, he could be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison and a fine of $ 4,600 (EUR 3,750).
Sarkozy’s 2012 campaign funding trial was supposed to begin in March but one of the lawyers went down with COVID-19 putting it off for some time.
Barely three months ago, Sarkozy was convicted in another case of corruption and influence peddling.
He is still expecting the verdict.
The judicial investigation has concluded that during his reelection campaign, the former French leader enjoyed much greater resources than allowed by law due to fraud.
Sarkozy’s 2012 campaign is estimated to have cost a total of $52 million, including the throwing of costly and ostentatious rallies.
It has not been established if the then French President himself ordered frauds or if he participated in their cover-ups, included forged invoices.
A total of 12 other associates, some of whom have confessed, and Bygmalion, the company which organized the rallies, have also been charged on counts such as forgery, criminal breach of trust, and being an accomplice in illegal campaign financing.
Back in 2014, Jerome Lavrilleux, ex-deputy director of the campaign, admitted on national television a system of fake invoices.
Those enabled Sarkozy’s conservative party, which was called UMP at the time, to throw large campaign rallies.
Retired from politics
Sarkozy has told investigative magistrates that some people from his party might have misused the money in question.
He has denied recalling two notifications from his accountants before the 2012 election, which had warned him of additional expenses.
Back in 2016, Sarkozy attempted again to run for the French presidency but lost in the primary of the conservative party (renamed to “Republicans in 2015).
This led him to retire from politics in 2017.
Reports say, however, that Sarkozy is advising current French President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist whose first term expires next year.