Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial in March on charges of campaign finance violations during his failed 2012 re-election bid, prosecutors said Thursday.
Sarkozy, who already faces a separate trial for corruption involving a judge, is accused of spending nearly double the legal campaign spending limit of 22.5 million euros ($26.6 million).
The trial was ordered last year after his lawyers failed with legal manoeuvres to avoid prosecution. If convicted he risks a one-year prison sentence.
Investigators claim that Sarkozy’s campaign used fake invoices to get around the campaign spending limits.
But Sarkozy, 65, has claimed he was unaware of a fraud he says was orchestrated by executives at the public relations firm Bygmalion.
Thirteen other people, including a number of Bygmalion executives, have also been charged in the case, scheduled to run from March 17 to April 15.
In October, Sarkozy will become the country’s first former head of state to stand trial on corruption charges, in a case where he is accused of trying to secure classified information from a judge.
Prosecutors say he offered to help the judge obtain a cushy post in Monaco in exchange for the information, leading to charges of corruption and influence peddling.
Sarkozy has been charged over accusations by former members of Moamer Kadhafi’s regime that he accepted millions from the slain Libyan dictator, some of it delivered in cash-stuffed suitcases, for his first presidential campaign in 2007.
He is appealing the charge, and a hearing is expected this month.
Despite his legal woes, Sarkozy is currently enjoying a surge in sales for his latest memoirs, “The Time of Storms,” which recounts the first two years of his presidency.