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Sarkozy could face campaign finance trial, derailing presidential reelection bid

Nicolas Sarkozy at a campaign rally this year
Nicolas Sarkozy at a campaign rally this year Reuters/Philippe Laurenson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy's bid for reelection could be derailed by a prosecutors' recommendation that he face trial over illegal funding of his 2012 campaign. If an investigating judge accepts the proposal, it could torpedo his intention of standing in the Republcans party's primaries in November

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Prosecutors are calling for Sarkozy and 13 associates to be sent to trial in the Bygmalion campaign finance affair, sources told the AFP news agency.

They believe that public relations firm Bygmalion, which organised some of his 2012 campaign appearances, sent a bill for 18.5 million euros to Sarkozy's party, at that time called the UMP, instead of the campaign, thus allowing him to vastly exceed the legal limit of 22.5 million euros.

Sarkozy would face charges of breaking the spending rule and knowingly filing false campaign finance accounts but not of direct involvement in the fraud, the source said.

The 13 others, who include former leading UMP officials and Bygmalion bosses, would face charges including fraud, breach of trust and complicity in illegal election campaign finance.

Sarkozy was charged with illegal campaign funding in February, because of suspicions that he committed to overspending by trying to organise more rallies while knowing that his expenses had already reached the limit.

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