Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial in France

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to stand trial over claims he illegally financed a failed re-election bid.

According to reports from the Reuters news agency, Mr Sarkozy is accused of spending overruns and funding irregularities dating back to 2012.

Sources told the agency that 13 others would also face prosecution over the alleged incident.

The so-called ‘Bygmalion Affair’ centres around claims that bills for the former president’s election campaign were passed off as invoices for party meetings in order to skirt round France’s strict limits on campaign financing.

Sarkozy’s former deputy campaign manager, Jerome Lavrilleux has insisted that Mr Sarkozy was unaware of the “anomalies.”

With a legal campaign financing limit of €22.5 million, the allegations suggest Mr Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party massively overshot the legal ceiling.

The decision to put Sarkozy on trial comes as French politicians face growing scrutiny over their personal finances in the build-up to this year’s presidential election in April and May.

Francois Fillon, the centre-right presidential candidate has faced embezzlement allegations in recent weeks after reports his wife was paid with taxpayer money for a bogus job as a parliamentary assistant.