Sarkozy questioned over campaign funding

  • 17/02/2016
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (Reuters)
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (Reuters)

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, a potential candidate in 2017, has been taken for questioning by investigating magistrates about a scandal over excess spending in his unsuccessful 2012 re-election campaign.

A judicial source said Sarkozy, leader of the centre-right opposition Republicans, had been notified in advance that the summons could lead to his being placed under formal examination, which would be a prelude to a possible trial.

He was driven to the headquarters of the Paris financial prosecutors' office on Tuesday (local time) to be questioned about the so-called Bygmalion affair.

Sarkozy has repeatedly denied knowledge of dual accounting and about 18 million euros in false invoices issued by the Bygmalion event-organisation company that 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.

In a book published last month, Sarkozy wrote: "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."

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