Paris (AP) – Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to appear in court on Wednesday on charges of illegally funding his failed 2012 re-election bid.
The new case is set to open two weeks after he was convicted in another case of selling corruption and influence, which he appealed.
However, the new trial is likely to be adjourned quickly և postponed to a later date as one of the defense attorneys has been transferred to COVID-19.
Sarkozy, 66, who was president from 2007 to 2012, has been accused of spending the maximum amount of 22.5 million euros ($ 26.8 million) he owed on his re-election bid in 2012. lost the socialist François Hollande. ,
If convicted, he faces up to one year in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros ($ 4,470). He denied the crime.
According to the court investigation, Sarkozy “indisputably benefited from the fraud, which allowed him to have much better resources during his 2012 campaign than the law allowed.”
Following a series of scandals since 1990, French law provides for a set of rules that severely limit the cost of propaganda.
The magistrate concluded that Sarkozy and his entourage had decided to hold “spectacular and expensive gatherings.” The total cost of the campaign reached at least 42.8 million euros ($ 51 million).
The investigation did not find out whether Sarkozy himself ordered the fraud or whether he was involved in attempts to cover up the overspending, which involved forgery of invoices.
In addition to Sarkozy, 12 other people, the company responsible for organizing the rallies, are on trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust, fraud, complicity in illegal campaign financing.
During the investigation, some admitted their wrongdoings.
In 2014, campaign erom Lavrilous, the deputy director of the campaign, unveiled a system of fake invoices on national television that allegedly allowed the Conservative Party, then known as the UMP, to pay for rallies.
The scandal sparked a destructive war between the leaders of the Conservative Party, who blamed each other.
Sarkozy has denied that the alleged illegal money ever funded his campaign. Speaking before the investigating magistrates, he asked: “Where is the money?”, Which implies that some members of his party could have misused it.
Sarkozy left active politics in 2017, but still has a strong influence within the Conservative Party, which has been renamed the Republican Party. According to French media, he has regular contacts with the centrist President Emanuel Macron, whom he is said to be advising.
Two weeks ago, Sarkozy was convicted of corruption, selling influence, sentenced to one year in prison and two years probation. Sarkozy denied his wrongdoing and appealed the verdict, which he called “deep injustice.”