Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial over campaign finance accusations

During the 2012 campaign, when opinion polls showed that support for Mr Sarkozy was failing, he turned his campaign rallies into US-style extravaganzas with special effects and multiple giant screens.

Sarkozy's party, The Republican, has been accused of submitting false accounts to hide the actual cost of his 2012 presidential election campaign.

After a period of retirement, Sarkozy returned to politics to take the helm of the Republicans and sought the nomination to run for president in the upcoming elections in April and May 2017.

The company's involvement has led to the case being called the "Bygmalion affair".

Sarkozy was accused of collaborating with a public relations firm to disguise the true expenditures of his Union for a Popular Movement party during the 2012 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 spend nearly double the amount permitted. Several Bygmalion employees told authorities the illicit campaign activity occurred.




Thirteen others, who were main figures in Sarkozy's 2012 campaign, are also to face trial for alleged "breach of trust or concealment", and "fraud and complicity in illegal campaign financing".

Over a dozen more people are expected to face trial.

One of the two judges investigating the matter has signed the order, reported BBC on Tuesday.

Francois Fillon, the centre-right presidential candidate has faced embezzlement allegations in recent weeks after reports his wife was paid with taxpayer money for a bogus job as a parliamentary assistant. France has a cap of 22.5 million euros on campaign spending.

The decision to go to trial comes amid growing scrutiny of politicians finances in the French presidential elections.

Jacques Chirac was handed a suspended prison sentence by a Paris court in 2011 for diverting public funds and abusing public confidence.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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