Nicolas Sarkozy’s judicial adventures continue. As of this Thursday, whoever was French head of state between 2007 and 2012 will have to appear before the Judicial Court of Paris accused of illegally financing his frustrated presidential campaign of 2012, a crime whose sanction can amount to one year in prison and 3,750 euros of penalty fee.
Using a system of false invoices, the former French president would have doubled the spending ceiling imposed by law: Sarkozy spent 42.8 million euros , compared to the 22.5 million authorized.
To hide this significant gap, the ex-president and his team have created a double billing system using Bygmailion and its subsidiary Event & Cie, the company in charge of organizing the rallies and campaign meetings.
Said society would have accepted to underestimate the amount of its invoices and the amounts pending payment would have been paid directly by the conservative formation Unión por un Movimiento Popular (UMP) – renamed Los Republicanos (LR) – thanks to false receipts, fictitious events and prices inflated.
“Spectacular and expensive rallies”
Along with Sarkozy, 13 defendants, senior officials from his party, members of the campaign team and managers of the Bygmalion company, share the defendant’s bench. Who decided to start this illegal financing system? ¿ Who was in the current assembly ? Did the former president participate in its creation? These are some of the issues that the court will have to clarify over the next few weeks.
The prosecution will try to show that Sarkozy, who denies having been aware of the false invoices, could not ignore the manipulation of his campaign accounts. “It was the candidate and his closest team who chose to focus the campaign on spectacular and expensive rallies and to entrust the organization to specialized agencies [such as Bygmalion],” writes investigating judge Serge Tournaire in his referral report.
“Profited from the scams”
The public prosecutor acknowledges that “the investigation [has not been able to establish] that Nicolas Sarkozy had ordered [the embezzlement], or that he had participated in it, or even that he had been informed of it.” However, for the magistrate, “there is no doubt that [the candidate] benefited from the fraud revealed by the investigation.”
In mid-March, two weeks after Sarkozy’s sentence to three years in prison , two of them suspended, for corruption and influence peddling in the Bismuth affair, this new trial was postponed at the request of one of the defendants. whose lawyer contracted the coronavirus. Restarted this Thursday, the process is expected to last until June 22.