Paris (AFP) – While the matter Fillon is in full swing, the survey Bygmalion ends: the judge ordered the referral to trial of the fourteen protagonists of which Nicolas Sarkozy, for his excessive spending in the presidential campaign of 2012.
This is the second time that a former head of State is referred to trial in a politico-financial case under the Fifth Republic, after Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), who was sentenced in 2011 in the case of ‘ghost’ employees of the city hall of Paris.
Retired since his defeat at the primary of the right on 20 November, Nicolas Sarkozy, 62 years old, is sent to trial for illegal financing of election campaign, a crime punishable by a year in prison and 3,750 euro fine.
Himself entangled in the suspicions of job dummy of his wife as an assistant parliamentarian, the candidate of the right for the presidential election Francois Fillon has said to have “a thought moved” for Nicolas Sarkozy, which he was the First minister, in front of parliamentarians gathered at his HEADQUARTERS for the campaign.
Concretely, the former president is criticized for”having exceeded the ceiling on election expenses,” “engaging, without taking into account both of the alerts sent by the accountants of its campaign for the 7 march and 26 April 2012, of the election expenses for an amount of at least 42.8 million euros,” said a justice source.
A staggering compared to the legal ceiling, then set at 22.5 million, a result of a “policy” of”maximum use of space in the media and television, with the multiplication of meetings often spectacular, the set design very studied, necessitating the employment of considerable means and expensive,” notes the judge Serge Tournaire in his order of 3 February, of which the AFP is aware of it.
“A train, which was travelling at full speed,” was the summary one of the leaders of the campaign, Jérôme Lavrilleux.
- False invoices -
By the voice of his lawyer Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy has announced that it would appeal this order, signed only by one of the two judges seized. According to sources close to the matter, the judge Renaud van Ruymbeke does not share the analysis of his colleague on the involvement of the former head of the State.
“This clear disagreement (…), something very rare to be stressed, illustrates the inanity of this decision”, said ms. Herzog.
officials of the former UMP party as its director general Eric Cesari, the leaders of the campaign team, as its director Guillaume Lambert or Jérôme Lavrilleux, the leaders of Bygmalion, as Bastien Millot, and experts-accountants: the judge ordered the referral to trial of thirteen other actors to fake or use, fraud, or aiding and abetting, breach of trust or concealment, aiding and abetting the illegal funding of the campaign.
The case focuses on a system of false invoices to large-scale to hide the overflow of the ceiling, by taking advantage of control weaknesses.
The scandal erupted in 2014 when executives of Bygmalion and Jérôme Lavrilleux had revealed this fraud to the benefit of the campaign sarkozyste, while they were themselves accused of wrongdoing, but in favor of their close relative, Jean-François Copé, finally put out of the question.
The cheating was to be attributed to the UMP (who became Republicans) the estimated 16.2 million euros of expenses of meetings of the campaign, that should have been included in the official account of the candidate.
The investigation was unable to determine who gave the order. Several protagonists have lent a key role to Jérôme Lavrilleux, who has always claimed not to have been informed that after the campaign.
Nicolas Sarkozy has not been put in due to the false invoices.
“On the other hand, slippages in financial (…) are the direct consequence of decisions taken by the individual, alone or together with its teams, in full knowledge of the risks involved,” said the judge.
“it’s Necessary that I immerse myself in the 46 cartons” of bills?, had defended the ex-the candidate in front of the judge. He had denied any explosion in spending and raised another hypothesis, that of overage costs for the benefit of the patrons of Bygmalion, with Jean-François Copé in the background.
In the course of the investigation, financial expertise, however, has concluded that the tariffs applied by Bygmalion were not abnormal.
moreover, the investigations have brought to light the omission of other expenses, estimated at € 3.5 million by the judge, and that had nothing to do with the company Bygmalion.