France finds Sarkozy broke campaign funding laws

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of illegal campaign financing by a Paris court on Thursday (September 30) - for overspending on a failed 2012 re-election bid.

But he's unlikely to serve the one-year sentence he was handed.

His lawyer said he'd appeal, effectively suspending it. And, the judge said he could serve the term at home with an electronic tag.

But it was his second guilty verdict this year, and a stunning fall from grace for a man who led France from 2007 to 2012 and still holds sway among conservatives.

His conservative party spent nearly double the 22.5 million euros (that's currently $19.2 million) allowed under electoral law, prosecutors said.

It held extravagant campaign rallies and then hired a friendly public relations agency to hide the cost.

Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing. He told the court in June he hadn't been involved in the logistics of his campaign for a second term or in how money was spent during the election run-up.

But the court said Sarkozy was made aware of the overspending and didn't act on it, and that he didn't have to approve every spend to be responsible.

Several others were found guilty of fraud over the campaign financing and sentenced to up to 3-1/2 years in jail and hefty fines.

In March, Sarkozy was found guilty of trying to bribe a judge and peddle influence in order to obtain confidential information on a judicial inquiry.

He also denied any wrongdoing in that case, in which he was sentenced to three years in jail- two suspended. But an appeal means he hasn't actually spent time in prison yet.

The two convictions could force Sarkozy to play a more discreet role in next year's presidential election.

He wasn't planning to be a candidate but, as a popular figure on the right, he'd be expected to support his party's candidate.

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