Sarkozy in France faces prison term in campaign finance lawsuit – Action News Jax – .

Sarkozy in France faces prison term in campaign finance lawsuit – Action News Jax – .

PARIS – (AP) – The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy ends Tuesday in Paris, after a month in which the court sought to determine whether he had broken campaign finance laws during the his unsuccessful candidacy for re-election in 2012.

The verdict is expected to be delivered at a later date. Prosecutors requested a six-month prison sentence, as well as a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 3,750 euros ($ 4,468).

Sarkozy, President of France from 2007 to 2012, denies any wrongdoing. He is accused of having spent nearly double the maximum legal amount of 22.5 million euros ($ 27.5 million) for the re-election candidacy he lost to socialist Francois Hollande.

The trial comes after Sarkozy, 66, was convicted on March 1 of bribery and influence peddling in another case. He appealed against this verdict.

In their findings last week, prosecutors said Sarkozy knew weeks before the 2012 election that his campaign funding – strictly limited under French law – was approaching the legal maximum. They accused him of ignoring two notes from his accountants warning against the accumulation of additional expenses.

Instead, he gave instructions that led to spending more money and failed to put in place a monitoring system, prosecutors said.

“Sarkozy is the signatory and the only one responsible for financing his campaign. He is responsible for tracking expenses, which he did not do, ”said prosecutor Vanessa Perree.

He showed “his intention to exceed (the limit) by continuing to organize his rallies,” she added.

Prosecutors said on March 10, 2012, eight weeks before the presidential run-off, that the campaign budget was already above the legal limit. The next day, Sarkozy organized a giant rally in Villepinte, north of Paris, which alone cost 6 million euros.

As Election Day approached, Sarkozy organized nearly one rally a day, including two large ones in Paris at a cost of several million euros.

In his one-day court appearance in Paris last week, Sarkozy vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He said the extra money didn’t go to his campaign, but rather helped make other people richer.

He said, his voice often raised in anger, that he had followed his staff’s financial recommendations, including canceling two scheduled gatherings. “I don’t see where I have been neglectful, where I have been negligent,” he said.

He said he “never” gave direct instructions to the service providers in charge of the organization because he had a team to do so.

“We made mistakes, probably… But was there malicious intent, fraudulent intent? No, no, ”he said.

In addition to the former president, 13 other people are on trial, including members of his conservative party The Republicans, accountants and officials of the communication group responsible for organizing the rallies, called Bygmalion. They face charges of counterfeiting, breach of trust, fraud and complicity in illegal campaign financing.

Some have already admitted wrongdoing and detailed the bogus bill system that was supposed to cover overspending.

Prosecutors have called for most suspended prison sentences and up to a year in prison for Bygmalion’s co-founder.

The defendants “disagree on everything. The statements are not credible, they may be lies, ”Perree said.

Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017, but still plays a behind-the-scenes role with his party, The Republicans. French media have reported that he may end up supporting centrist President Emmanuel Macron, through an alliance with mainstream right-wing figures, in next year’s presidential election.


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