France's Sarkozy found guilty of illegal campaign financing, appeals court confirms

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty on Wednesday by a Paris appeals court of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid, confirming a previous ruling by a lower court, reports citing Reuters.

He was sentenced to one-year year prison sentence, half of which suspended, that can be served through alternative means like wearing an electronic bracelet without going to jail.

Sarkozy had been handed a one-year prison sentence in 2021 when first found guilty, though that was suspended while he launched his appeal.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, remained an influential figure among conservatives and is on friendly terms with President Emmanuel Macron - despite a string of trials and investigations linked to various legal issues surrounding his campaign finances.

He has always denied accusations that his party Les Republicains, then known as the UMP, worked with a public relations firm named Bygmalion to hide the true cost of his campaign - marked by lavish show events previously unseen in French politics.

During a hearing, Sarkozy put the blame on some members of his campaign team: "I didn't choose any supplier, I didn't sign any quotation, any invoice," he told the court.

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

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