The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in court for the first time yesterday, June 15th, for the trial in which he and 13 others face charges over the massive overspend during his failed presidential election campaign in 2012. The ex-head of state conceded some responsibility in the way his campaign was conducted. But, showing clear signs of irritation, Nicolas Sarkozy strongly denied that he had committed any financial irregularities himself. And instead he pointed the finger at supporters of Jean-François Copé, who at the time was head of Sarkozy's political party the UMP. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court in Paris to hear the former president give evidence.
Prosecutors allege that Sarkozy’s conservative party splurged nearly double the 22.5 million euros permitted under electoral law on lavish campaign rallies, and then hired a friendly public relations agency to hide the cost.
For a long time Nicolas Sarkozy's former allies avoided personal attacks on the former president, even after they had become his political adversaries in the contest to choose the Right's presidential candidate for 2017. Now, however, the gloves are off and some on the Right are openly talking about the string of political and financial scandals in which the ex-president is currently embroiled. For the first time, report Ellen Salvi and Mathilde Mathieu, Sarkozy now looks politically vulnerable to the sheer weight of the scandals and criticism bearing down on him.
The French prosecution authorities say the former president should face court proceedings over his role in the “illegal” funding of his failed 2012 presidential election campaign which spent more than double the legal spending limit. It is now for the investigating judges to have the final say as to whether Sarkzoy and others should finally face trial or not. If he is sent for trial it will be a potential blow to the ex-president's political hopes ahead of the 2017 presidential election in which he hopes to be a candidate. But, crucially, any such trial would not be scheduled before next May's election – and if Sarkozy is elected president it would be postponed until 2022 at the earliest. Mathilde Mathieu reports.
An expert report has revealed for the first time the full extent of the massive overspend by Nicolas Sarkozy's failed election campaign in 2012. The document, seen by Mediapart, shows that the former president's campaign spent a total of nearly 46 million euros – double the fixed ceiling for a presidential candidate. The overspend includes a 'forgotten' 8.2 million euros whose existence only came to light late in 2015. Mathilde Mathieu reports.
In recent days six people have been placed under formal investigation in connection with the presidential election financial scandal that is rocking the main right-wing opposition party, the UMP. Judges are investigating a system of fake invoicing by communications firm Bygmalion in 2012 in which they unlawfully billed the UMP rather than Nicolas Sarkozy's election team for work they did organising campaign rallies. This was apparently done to avoid the Sarkozy campaign breaching strict rules on how much presidential candidates can spend. This growing scandal is now potentially a major threat to Sarkozy's political comeback, though the former president himself claims he knew nothing of the affair or even the name Bygmalion at the time. Here Mathilde Mathieu, Ellen Salvi and Marine Turchi give a guide to the main players in the so-called Bygmalion affair and the issues at stake.
by Mathilde Mathieu, Ellen Salvi and Marine Turchi