Sarkozy to stand trial over alleged political finances offenses

He served as president from 2007 until 2012.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will face trial over allegations of false accounting during his 2012 election campaign that allowed him to exceed spending limits, local media reported on Tuesday.

Bygmalion allegedly charged 18.5 million euros to Sarkozy's rightwing party - which at the time was called the UMP, but has since been renamed the Republicans - instead of billing the president's campaign.

Prosecutors allege Sarkozy ignored warnings he would break campaign spending limits and spent €20 million ($21.42 million) over the €22.51 million ceiling.

An investigating magistrate ordered Sarkozy on February 3 to stand trial on charges of illegal financing of an election campaign, according to the judicial official.

In this case, judges are also investigating possible improper use of Sarkozy's campaign funds as well as kick-backs involving Bygmalion, a communications company hired to organize his rallies during the 2012 election fight. Several Bygmalion employees told authorities the illicit campaign activity occurred.

The investigation into Mr Sarkozy centres on whether the ex-leader was aware of the alleged fraud.

However, Mr Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, has said he will launch an appeal against the trial order, because only one of the two judges handling the case signed the order.

The development comes as other French politicians have faced questions over their financial dealings.

Francois Fillon, the centre-right presidential candidate has faced embezzlement allegations in recent weeks after reports his wife was paid with taxpayer money for a bogus job as a parliamentary assistant.

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