French ex-president Sarkozy questioned over campaign funding

Updated: 2015-04-01 21:35


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French ex-president Sarkozy questioned over campaign funding

Nicolas Sarkozy, conservative UMP political party leader and former French president, attends a news conference after the close of polls in France's second round Departmental elections of local councillors at their party's headquarters in Paris March 29, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - Former President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday appeared before a financial magistrate in a campaign funding probe, according to local reports.

The French leader was questioned in the Paris prosecutor's office as part of an inquiry into the payment by the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party for overspending during his 2012 election campaign.

In July 2013, the Constitutional Council, France's top constitutional body, confirmed he had exceeded spending limits by 2.1 percent to around 22.5 million euros (about 24.20 million U.S.

dollars) and imposed a personal 360,000-euro fine on Sarkozy that was paid off by the UMP party.

After winning the leadership of the conservative UMP party a year after, the former head of state paid 363,615 euros to the UMP party treasurer in an attempt to bring the matter to a close.

Two of his aides, Jean-Francois Cope, ex-UMP boss, and Catherine Vautrin, the party's treasurer, were placed into custody after being charged with abuse of trust.

Sarkozy recently won a victory in the French regional elections which is likely to boost his political comeback and consolidate his chances to bid for the 2017 presidential election.

The former president has been in a series of investigations over corruption, including the Bettencourt affair wherein he was charged with taking financial advantage of the elderly French billionaire, Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of the l'Oreal group.