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Nicolas Sarkozy Ordered to Stand Trial in Bygmalion Scandal


Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial in an illegal campaign finance case.

Nicolas Sarkozy faces accusations that his party falsified accounts in order to hide 18 million euros ($20 million) of campaign spending in 2012.

The former president has repeatedly denied that he was aware of the overspending.

Nicolas Sarkozy lost the 2012 race to Francois Hollande, and failed in his bid to run again in this year’s upcoming presidential election.

The case is known as the Bygmalion scandal.

It centers on claims that Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, then known as the UMP, connived with a friendly PR company to hide the true cost of his 2012 presidential election campaign.

Photo Reuters

France sets limits on campaign spending, and it is alleged the firm Bygmalion invoiced Nicolas Sarkozy’s party rather than the campaign, allowing the UMP to exceed the limit.

Employees at Bygmalion have admitted knowledge of the ruse and several UMP members already face charges.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s court case is expected to focus on whether the ex-leader was aware of the alleged fraud.

Thirteen other people are also expected to be tried.

However, judicial sources say an appeal could be launched against the trial order, because it was only made by one of the two judges handling the case.

The development comes as other French politicians have faced questions over their financial dealings.

Francois Fillon, who beat Nicolas Sarkozy to become the center-right’s candidate for the presidential race, is accused of misusing public funds to employ his wife and two children.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is demanding France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen return funds it says she has misspent, by paying an aide at the National Front party’s headquarters in Paris.

Nicolas Sarkozy is the second French president to be put on trial since 1958, when the current French republic was established.

Former President Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2011 for diverting public funds and abusing public trust.

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