Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy found guilty of financing illegal campaign financing, gets 1year jail term. This verdict was given on Thursday.
Nicolas Sarkozy, 66, who has denied any misconduct, was not present in court to hear the decision. His attorney has stated that he will file an appeal.
He was accused of spending about €22.5 million on his 2012 reelection campaign, nearly double the legal limit. After that, he was defeated by Socialist Francois Hollande.
Prosecutors suspect Sarkozy knew his costs, which are carefully controlled under French law, were approaching the legal maximum weeks before the election. They accused him of ignoring two warning memos from his accountants regarding the money problem.
Although he is not charged of being a member of the fraudulent system of phony invoices, prosecutors claim that Nicolas Sarkozy is “the only person accountable for his campaign finance” and that he chose to exceed the limit by organizing several rallies, including large ones.
Prosecutors had asked for a year in prison, with six months suspended, and a €3,750 fine.
Nicolas Sarkozy “continued to organize meetings” despite being “warned in writing of the possibility of exceeding” the legal limit, according to Caroline Viguier, President of the 11th Correctional Chamber.
“This was not his first election campaign; he had campaign experience,” the magistrate continued.
In addition to the Ex-French president, 13 others were found guilty of unlawful campaign financing, including members of his conservative Republicans party, accountants, and the heads of the Bygmalion communication group in charge of organizing the demonstrations. They received penalties ranging from two to three and a half years in prison.
Some admitted to misconduct and described the system of falsified invoices used to hide the expenditures.
Prosecutors had sought primarily suspended prison sentences, with the co-founder of Bygmalion facing up to a year in prison.
The decision comes six months after he was found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling in another case and sentenced to one year in prison with two years suspended, making him the first Ex-French president to be condemned to a prison term with no chance of parole.
He is currently free pending his appeal.
The Ex-French leader is also being probed for allegedly taking money from Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, to bankroll his successful 2007 presidential campaign, as well as for influence-peddling in a case involving his advising work in Russia. The latter tries to see if he “engaged in possibly criminal lobbying actions” for Russian billionaires.
Nicolas Sarkozy left active politics in 2017, yet he continues to play a role in politics behind the scenes. He is said to be involved in the process of selecting a conservative contender for France’s presidential election next year, according to French media.