Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty on Thursday of illegally funding his 2012 re-election campaign, making him the first head of state since World War II to receive two prison terms.
This is the second count for Sarkozy – he was found guilty of corruption in a separate trial six months earlier when he was sentenced to three years in prison. Two of the years were then reduced to a suspended sentence.
In what has come to be known as the “Bygmalion Affair,” named after the public relations firm that masked the true cost of Sarkozy’s campaign, investigators discovered that the former Republican leader had knowingly spent nearly double the legal limit to fund his 2012 campaign. Sarkozy spent around 42.8 million euros ($ 49.7 million), well exceeding the legal limit of 22.5 million euros in this which would ultimately be a losing effort.
The court said Sarkozy was aware of the situation before the 2012 election and willfully failed to monitor continued spending after the fact. Sarkozy denied having any direct knowledge of the amount spent and insisted that his campaign team had sole control of the funding.
Thirteen co-defendants involved in the campaign – including members of Sarkozy’s conservative party, accountants and members of Bygmalion – were also found guilty.
However, Sarkozy is unlikely to spend time physically behind bars. The judge said he could serve his sentence at home by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. Sarkozy’s lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.