Biya’s French acolyte to face trial over fraud 0

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been summoned to stand trial over allegations of illegally financing his doomed 2012 re-election campaign. The prosecution case against Sarkozy claims that the former president extensively exceeded a spending limit of $24 million by using false billing from a public relations company named Bygmalion, an informed source told AFP on Tuesday.

On February 3, Serge Tournaire, one of two judges in charge of the case, referred the case to the court after Sarkozy’s legal efforts to refute the allegations failed in December, the source said. Instead of billing Sarkozy himself, Bygmalion is said to have charged $19.7 to the former president’s right wing Republican Party – called UMP at the time. The trial will focus on whether Sarkozy himself was aware of the fraud, as Bygmalion’s executives have already acknowledged the existence of fraud and false accounting.

During a questioning session by the police in September 2015, Sarkozy passed the entire blame on Bygmalion and the UMP and slammed the allegations against himself as a “farce.” He claims that he did not remember ever being warned about the accounting. Apart from the Bygmalion case, Sarkozy has been fighting several other legal challenges since losing the 2012 polls to President Francois Hollande.

After a period of retirement, Sarkozy returned to politics to take the helm of the Republicans and sought the nomination to run for president in the upcoming elections in April and May 2017. However, he lost the nomination to his rivals in the Republican Party, former Prime Minister Alain Juppe and ultimate winner Francois Fillon, in November.