Thursday, October 29, 2020

Former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid bribery trial

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The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has lost a final bid to halt his prosecution on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

Mr Sarkozy is accused of trying to bribe a magistrate by offering a prestigious job in Monaco in return for information about a criminal inquiry into his political party.

France’s highest court rejected Mr Sarkozy’s appeal, ruling that he must stand trial in the coming months.

The former president denies wrongdoing.

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The magistrate he allegedly attempted to bribe, Gilbert Azibert, and Mr Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog also face trial.

The case centres on conversations between Mr Azibert and Mr Herzog, which were taped by investigators looking into claims that Mr Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.

Mr Sarkozy allegedly offered Mr Azibert the job in Monaco in return for information about the case. The investigation also revealed that the former president and his lawyer used mobile phones and fake names to communicate – with Mr Sarkozy going by Paul Bismuth.

Mr Sarkozy has been dogged by allegations of financial impropriety.

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Last year he denied that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He was taken into custody over the Gaddafi allegations and questioned by specialist investigators.

He has also separately been ordered to stand trial over allegations that his 2012 presidential campaign issued fake invoices to an events company called Bygmalion, in order to conceal €18.5m worth of overspending.

Mr Sarkozy denied the charges, saying that the fraud was committed by executives at Bygmalion – some of whom are also facing trial – and that he was unaware.

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