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French court finds former President Sarkozy guilty of corruption

(The Southern African Times) – Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty on Monday of corruption and influence-peddling and handed a three-year sentence.

It was a dramatic fall from grace for a politician who bestrode the national and global stage for five years, but it may get worse.

Below are other legal woes that Sarkozy faces, apart from the appeal he plans to mount against Monday’s ruling:

“BYGMALION AFFAIR

On March 17, Sarkozy returns to court accused of financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign illegally.

The “Bygmalion affair” centres on accusations that his party, then known as the UMP, worked with a friendly public relations firm to hide the true cost of his re-election bid.

France sets strict limits on campaign spending. Prosecutors allege that the firm, Bygmalion, invoiced UMP rather than the campaign. They say Sarkozy spent 42.8 million euros on his 2012 campaign, almost double the permitted amount.

Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing.

LIBYAN CAMPAIGN CASH

Sarkozy is a formal suspect in an ongoing investigation into allegations of illicit Libyan funding for his first presidential campaign in 2007.

He is accused of corruption, illegal financing and conspiracy in a case involving Libyan spies, arms dealers and allegations that late Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi sent Sarkozy’s election campaign suitcases stuffed with millions of euros in cash.

Sarkozy has always denied the accusations.

“There’s not even the smallest inkling of proof,” he said in an interview in 2018, adding that the affair had, since 2011, made his life a living hell.

One of his main accusers, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, who has described himself as a “middleman in the shadows”, withdrew his account last year.

RUSSIA

Financial prosecutors in January said they were opening a preliminary investigation into alleged influence-peddling related to activities undertaken by Sarkozy in Russia seven years after he left office.

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