Sarkozy 'preliminarily charged' over campaign funding

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is under investigation, the Paris prosecutor has confirmed Credit: Reuters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been handed preliminary charges over suspected illegal overspending on his failed 2012 re-election bid.

France capped presidential funding to 22.5 million euro (£17.5 million) in 2012.

Sarkozy, who lost out to Francois Holllande, is accused of spending 17 million euro (£13.2 million) over that.

The 61-year-old, who is now France's main opposition leader, has been questioned by prosecutors and could face fraud charges.

Preliminary charges mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed.

But it gives them more time to investigate before deciding whether to send suspects to trial.

Several people close to Mr Sarkozy, including his former top adviser, also face preliminary charges in the case.

Sarkozy has already been fined 364,000 euro (£283,000) for overspending in the case.