The French prosecutor’s office has recommended that former president Nicolas Sarkozy stand trial for breaching campaign spending limits.
It follows a long investigation into claims that Sarkozy’s then-UMP party falsified accounts in order to hide 18m euros (£15m; $20m) of spending in 2012.
Sarkozy lost the 2012 race to Francois Hollande, but is hoping to run again in next year’s election.
He said he left it to subordinates to raise campaign funds.
The prosecutor said as the candidate, Sarkozy was ultimately responsible for his own campaign-and in any case there was also considerable evidence he was warned at the time of the risks of over-spending.
Sarkozy’s legal problems hang over his renewed presidential hopes and, with campaigning now well under way for the centre-right primary, it brings this major weak spot back into the public eye.