France: Ex-President Sarkozy found guilty of campaign fraud

World Thursday 30/September/2021 14:01 PM
By: DW
France: Ex-President Sarkozy found guilty of campaign fraud
Nicolas Sarkozy during his earlier fraud trial in March

Paris: A judge in France found ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of fraud on Thursday.

Sarkozy was accused of violating campaign finance laws during his unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2012.

He was sentenced to one year's imprisonment, however, he is allowed to serve that time under house arrest under electronic surveillance.

Sarkozy did not show up to court to hear the verdict.

In an attempt to ensure a level playing field, candidates are only allowed to spend €22.5 million ($26.1 million) on their presidential campaigns.

Prosecutors said Sarkozy spent nearly €43 million, the excess of which was then disguised through a series of fictious invoices by his then-party UMP.

The court ruled that Sarkozy "knew" the legal limit and "voluntarily" turned a blind eye to the mounting expenses.

Sarkozy had denied the charges, even after being convicted in a separate fraud case in March. In that case, he was given a three-year prison sentence for bribery and undue influence, two years of which were suspended.

However, he is out of prison while he appeals that verdict, a process that could take years.

The conversative former president is also facing a third corruption charge over allegations that during his successful 2007 campaign, he illegally received €50 million in contributions from then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi that were funneled to France through an intermediary.

Sarkozy won the 2007 election with 53.1% of the vote. His charisma and eloquence ensured him an initial popularity that declined as he faced criticism over his handling of the global financial crisis and the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

He lost the 2012 election to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

He briefly returned to politics in 2014, before being defeated in the presidential primary race to represent his party, now called the Republicans, in 2016.