Nicolas Sarkozy is to become the first former President in the history of modern France to be tried for corruption linked to his time in office.
The Court of Cassation in Paris on Wednesday rejected his appeal against court action for trying to bribe a judge.
Sarkozy, 64, is said to have tried to obtain classified legal information from Gilbert Azibert in 2014.
The judge had information about a criminal investigation into Sarkozy’s alleged acceptance of backhanders from the late Liliane Bettencourt, who was then France’s richest woman.
French former President Nicolas Sarkozy is pictured as he attends a football match at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris last month
France’s former president and Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin (right) during a meeting of Russian government officials in St Petersburg earlier this month
Prosecuting sources in Paris told AFP, France’s national news agency, that Sarkozy would go on trial ‘in the coming months’ for charges including ‘corruption’, which is punishable for up to 10 years in prison.
While former presidents such as Jacques Chirac have been convicted in criminal courts, indictments have been linked to wrongdoing carried out before they became president.
Sarkozy is said to have tried to get the information out of Judge Azibert by offering him a prestigious legal position in the Riviera principality of Monaco.
Much of the evidence was compiled by phone taps carried out soon after Sarkozy ended his one-term as president in 2012.
Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni Sarkozy attend the national tribute to singer Charles Aznavour at Les Invalides in October last year in Paris
Sarkozy also faces imprisonment if found guilty of a range of offences in the so-called Bygmalion Affair.
Bygmalion was the PR firm which handled Sarkozy’s appearances during his failed 2012 re-election campaign, many of them made with his third wife, the model and pop singer Carla Bruni, 51.
The company is said to have used a vast system of false accounting to conceal an alleged explosion of illegal funding for his campaign.
Sarkozy exceeded the legal limit for funds of £18.5 million, with his team spending the equivalent of at least £33 million.
Sarkozy has claimed he is completely innocent of any wrongdoing in all cases, and knew nothing about any kind of corruption.
The investigation has kept Sarkozy, who is still allowed to use his ‘president’ title after serving a single term of office between 2007 and 2012, tied up in legal proceedings.
The Paris home he shares with Ms Bruni was raided by fraud squad officers within a week of him standing down seven years ago.
This was because French presidents are immune from prosecution while in office, and they can only be charged once they leave.
Sarkozy is under investigation in a range of other scandals too, including claims that he received £42 million from the late Colonel Gaddafi.
Sarkozy failed in the Republican Party presidential primaries in 2016.
In 2011, Jacques Chirac was found guilty of diverting public funds and abusing public confidence, and received a two-year suspended prison sentence.
But all of this related to his time as mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.
Francois Fillon, Sarkozy’s former prime minister, currently also faces trial and the possibility of prison in connection with a fake jobs scam involving his British wife, Penelope Fillon. Both deny any wrongdoing.