The former president of France attended the trial on Tuesday that investigates the illegal financing of his campaign in 2012 and denied any involvement in it. The former politician maintained that he was unaware of any type of irregular financing, a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros. This is one of the many causes that Sarkozy has open against him.
Nicolas Sarkozy has returned to sit on the dock. The former president of France faced a trial on Tuesday, June 15, investigating the illegal financing of his campaign in 2012. Something against which Sarkozy showed ignorance, denying his involvement in the matter and even showing anger in front of the court.
“It was up to the campaign manager to organize the campaign and to me to do it. I am known for delegating a lot. I cannot take care of everything,” the former president told the Paris Correctional Court.
The Frenchman is accused of spending almost double the maximum legal amount allowed – 22.5 million euros – in an election that he ultimately lost against his rival, the socialist François Hollande.
Under this accusation, the former Head of State faces a year in prison and a 3,750-euro fine. This will be defined when the trial ends, which began on May 20 and is scheduled to close on June 22. However, Sarkozy had not appeared in court until June 15 because his lawyer has been representing him legally.
The cause in which the leader of the Republic is involved between 2007 and 2012 is known as Bygmalion, the name of the company in charge of managing the rallies and events in which Sarkozy tried to be re-elected as president. This company, together with its subsidiary Event & Cie, would have agreed to activate a double billing system to cover expenses, which were 42.8 million euros.
Despite lasting a month less than the 2007 campaign, the 2012 campaign had roughly the same number of rallies, according to the accounts presented by the defense. This is a total of 40 acts, which far exceeded the allowed budget. The way to cover the excesses was as follows: the price of the events was widely reduced in the receipts and the rest was paid by the then Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, as it was called before renaming it Los Republicanos (LR ), as fictitious conventions.
Sarkozy’s argument to ignore the case was to ensure that he was totally outside the organization of his mission to be re-elected and that, in fact, he did not know of Bygmalion’s name until 2014. But the Paris Prosecutor’s Office doubts this, after that Jérôme Lavrilleux, the number two of his campaign, made the plot public in a television interview the same year.
At the moment, the investigation has not been able to clarify whether Sarkozy ordered the fraudulent actions himself or not.
A total of 14 defendants in the Bygmalion case
Along with Sarkozy, thirteen more people are charged with the Bygmalion network. Unlike the former president, they face charges of “forgery and use of forgeries”, “complicity in the illegal financing of an electoral campaign” and “complicity in fraud.”
Contrary to the ex-president’s statements, Franck Attal, the then Event & Cie director, assured that Sarkozy was fully aware of what was happening. He pointed out that, in February of that year, the politician told him: “you have to give everything.” A phrase that, according to Attal, had very clear connotations; something that Sarkozy denies.
“Was I negligent and reckless? No. From the moment everyone told me that everything was fine, I had no reason to worry. We should have been more demanding, but was there any intention of fraud? No. How did the Bygmalion system to the campaign? I’m not here to accuse anyone, “the former president told the court.
This is not the only case open against Sarkozy. In March, he was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and influence peddling and one of the charges remains firm. Although he has appealed the sentence, the conservative has not been able to avoid becoming the first president of the French republic to be sentenced to a prison sentence.
But Sarkozy is still trying to clear his name. For this reason, the training lawyer gave a speech to the public in the room and turned his back on the court that will define his sentence. “I defend my honor and I do it with passion,” he later tried to apologize to the judges. Despite having faced two trials in a year, the ex-president’s future is still undefined.
With EFE, AP and local media