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Nicolas Sarkozy Calls Campaign Finance Charges 'Unfair And Unfounded'

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NICOLAS SARKOZY CAMPAIGN FINANCE
French former president Nicolas Sarkozy steps out of a car on March 25, 2013, in Paris, five days after being charged with taking financial advantage of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Nicolas Sarkozy took to Facebook Monday to address allegations made against him in a campaign finance case initiated last week by a French judge. The former French president is accused of illegally taking donations from L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his 2007 presidential campaign.

Calling the preliminary charges "unfair and unfounded," Sarkozy wrote that he has no doubt "truth will finally triumph." Though his lawyers and advisors were busy doing damage control on Friday, the Facebook post is the first time Sarkozy, himself, has responded to the accusations.

French Judge Jean-Michel Gentil filed the charges against Sarkozy Thursday, placing him under formal investigation. Pending the outcome of the inquiry, the preliminary complaint will either be dropped or Sarkozy could face criminal charges.

As the Agence France-Presse notes, if Sarkozy is convicted of exploiting the 90-year-old heiress' vulnerable mental state, he could be banned from holding public office for five years, be obligated to pay a large fine and face up to three years in jail.

Though the former president lost his office to Francois Hollande in May 2012, Sarkozy hinted at a 2017 comeback in an interview earlier this month. A sentencing could be a detriment to Sarkozy's political future.

Sarkozy was questioned over the Bettencourt donations in November by the same judge. At the time, Sarkozy received some relief when the judge deemed him an "assisted witness" instead of a suspect. However, the investigation continued, and the the French magistrate changed his tune last week, accusing Sarkozy of receiving hefty donations from Bettencourt, breaching electoral spending limits and taking advantage of a vulnerable person.

As France 24 reports, doctors say 90-year-old Bettencourt has been mentally incapacitated since 2006, a year before Sarkozy allegedly accepted envelopes of cash from Bettencourt to fund his presidential bid.

In his Facebook post, Sarkozy assured readers that he did not betray his duties, stating that he intends to devote all his energy to "demonstrating his integrity and honesty."

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