Ex-French leader Sarkozy faces ruling on campaign finance trial

Paris, May 16: Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy faces a hearing today on whether he must stand trial on charges of illicit financing of his failed 2012 presidential campaign, one of several legal inquiries which have dogged the rightwing politician since he left office. If an appeals court upholds a judge’s decision last year ordering the trial, Sarkozy could face a potentially embarrassing public ordeal as well as up to a year in prison if convicted. Prosecutors claim Sarkozy spent nearly 43 million euros (USD 51 million) on his lavish re-election bid — almost double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros — via fake invoices which a public relations firm charged instead to his UMP party.
Sarkozy has angrily denounced the charges, saying he was unaware of the fraud by executives at Bygmalion, who are also facing trial alongside accountants and former UMP officials.
His defence team is also arguing on procedural grounds, saying Sarkozy has already been sanctioned for campaign overspending by France’s Constitutional Council in 2013.
But that ruling involved just 364,000 euros of overspending, and came before the revelations of the “Bygmalion affair” and fake billings. (Agencies)