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Sarkozy questioned by judges over campaign funding scandal

Lionel Bonaventure, AFP |Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the conservative Les Républicains party, gives a speech in Paris on February 14, 2016

France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy was taken for questioning by investigating magistrates on Tuesday about a scandal over excess spending in his unsuccessful 2012 re-election campaign.


A judicial source said Sarkozy, leader of the conservative Les Républicans (formerly the UMP), had been notified in advance that the summons could lead to his being placed under formal investigation, a prelude to a possible trial.

Although he has not yet declared his candidacy, it is widely believed that he is manoeuvring for another run at the presidency in 2017.

Sarkozy was driven to the headquarters of the Paris financial prosecutors’ office to be questioned about the so-called Bygmalion affair.

The former president has repeatedly denied knowledge of dual accounting and some Є18 million ($20.1 million) in false invoices issued by the event organisation firm Bygmalion, which meant his campaign costs were more than double the legal limit.

Four senior figures in the 2012 campaign have already been placed under formal investigation for alleged political financing offences, including his campaign manager and treasurer.

“It will no doubt be hard to believe, but I swear it is the strict truth: I knew nothing about this company until the scandal broke,” Sarkozy wrote in a book that nevertheless admitted a number of mistakes he made in office that was published last month.

The magistrates have the option of placing Sarkozy under investigation or declaring him a witness in the case, as they did with former party leader Jean-Francois Copé last week.


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