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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to face trial over 2012 election financing

London [UK]: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is set to face trial for alleged fraudulent financing of his failed 2012 bid for re-election.

According to the Guardian, the case centers on an alleged system of false accounting used by Sarkozy’s office to conceal an enormous campaign overspend, mainly on the lavish rallies and US-style stadium gigs that cemented Sarkozy’s reputation as a political showman.

The limit on presidential campaign spending in France is €22.5m (£19.5m), and investigators suspect Sarkozy’s campaign spent €23m on top of that. Sarkozy has always denied any wrongdoing in the case, or even any knowledge of Bygmalion, an events company that allegedly concealed the overspend.

The case become to be known as the “Bygmalion affair”. The company allegedly wrote fake invoices and falsely charged €18.5 m to Sarkozy’s rightwing party – then called the UMP, since renamed Les Republicains – instead of billing the president’s campaign.

Fraud claims over Sarkozy 2012 campaign cast shadow over 2017 run.

Sarkozy’s rallies during his 2012 election battle against the Socialist François Hollande were theatrical mega-productions, slickly coordinated by dedicated film directors, with specially laid carpet for his luxury dressing rooms and tens of thousands of Euros spent on French flags to be waved by a sea of adoring fans.

But questions were asked over how the costly rallies were paid for.

Bygmalion executives have acknowledged the existence of fraud and false accounting and the trial will focus on whether Sarkozy was aware of it or made decisions about it.(ANI)