A formal investigation of Nicolas Sarkozy could prove devastating for his hopes to reenter politics.
It is alleged the former French president accepted illegal party funds in 2007.
Under French law this is the last step before a suspect is accused of a crime, and even if it does not get to that stage the investigation could still cloud Sarkozy’s reputation should he decide to run in the 2017 presidential race.
Euronews asked people in the streets of Paris what they thought about the case. One woman said it’s a problem that goes beyond this case: “Sad to say, but today all politicians are rotten to a certain extent. They’re just after payback. The left gets payback against the right and gets payback against the left.”
While one man urged caution: “It’s quite logical that there’s no smoke without fire, but on the other hand we have to be a bit careful because he’s still innocent until proven guilty”
Another man added: “It sounds a bit like a vendetta against Mr Sarkozy, who was talking about making a come back in politics. So this might pose a problem for Mr Sarkozy to return to politics.”
Sarkozy’s campaign is alleged to have accepted funds from France’s richest woman, 90-year-old L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
If found guilty he could face a maximum three-year jail term and a hefty fine.
Euronews Paris correspondent Gianni Magi concluded: “This is the second time that a former president of the French Republic has been put under an official investigation. The first was Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac, who was convicted in 2011 of embezzling public funds during his time as mayor of Paris. He was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.”