Former France President Sarkozy Gets 1-year Jail Term for Illegal Campaign Financing

A French court has on Thursday imposed a one-year sentence on former president, Nicolas Sarkozy after finding him guilty of illegal campaign financing for massive overspending on his 2012 re-election campaign.

Sarkozy’s lawyer said he would appeal the verdict which came six months after he was found guilty of corruption in a separate trial.

The court will allow the ex-president to serve the sentence at home by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Sarkozy, who spent nearly twice the legal limit on his failed bid for a second term in office, wasn’t present at the Paris court for the announcement of the verdict.

Moments after the sentence was announced, Sarkozy’s lawyer,  Thierry Herzog said he would appeal.

The 66-year-old right-winger pulled out all the stops in 2012 to try fend off the ultimately victorious Socialist candidate, François Hollande.

A series of lavish US-style election rallies caused his costs to spiral, with the final bill coming to at least 42.8 million euros, $49.7 million), nearly double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros.

The case is known as the Bygmalion affair, after the name of the public relations firm that set up a system of fake invoices to mask the real cost of the events.

Prosecutors had sought a one-year prison sentence, half of it suspended, for the former president. The verdict is not the same as a suspended sentence, as it goes down in his record as a full prison term.

It was the second guilty verdict this year for Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012 and retains influence among conservatives despite falling from grace over his legal woes.

The court stated that Sarkozy “knew” weeks before the 2012 election that the legal limit was at stake and “voluntarily” failed to supervise additional expenses, with prosecutors accusing him of having ignored two notes from his accountants warning about the money issue.

Prosecutors argued Sarkozy is “the only person responsible for his campaign financing” and that he chose to exceed the limit by organising many rallies, including giant ones.

During his hearing in June, Sarkozy  told the court the extra money didn’t go into his campaign, but instead helped make other people richer. He denied any “fraudulent intent.”

He also insisted he didn’t handle the logistics of his campaign for a second term as a president nor did he oversee how money was spent, because he had a team to do that.

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