Judges in France have placed former French president Nicolas Sarkozy under formal investigation over allegations of illegal campaign financing.
           
Mr Sarkozy was released from judicial supervision after two days of questioning over allegations that his 2007 election campaign received funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
           
The former president is being investigated for illicit campaign financing,misappropriation of Libyan public funds and passive corruption.     

The charges are the most serious yet against Mr Sarkozy, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. 

For the charges to be brought in France, the investigating magistrate must have "serious and corroborating evidence" that the crime took place. 

It is the second major investigation for Mr Sarkozy, who also faced charges of illicit campaign spending overruns during his failed re-election bid in 2012.  

The latest case concerns accusations by a Franco-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who says he helped funnel €5m from Gaddafi's intelligence chief to Mr Sarkozy's campaign chief ahead of the 2007 election.  

Mr Sarkozy himself has not commented publicly since he first answered a police summons for questioning on Tuesday. 

He has in the past dismissed the allegations as "grotesque" and described them as a "manipulation".  

The inquiry began in 2013, after investigative website Mediapart published Takieddine's allegations.  

In an interview with Lebanon's L'Orient du Jour newspaper published on Tuesday, Mr Takieddine said he acted as an intermediary between France and Libya during the time that Mr Sarkozy served as interior minister, before his election bid.

Five months after Mr Sarkozy was elected president, Gaddafi visited him in Paris, on his first state visit to a Western capital in decades. 

The eccentric Libyan leader pitched a Bedouin-style tent near the Elysee Palace. 

Mr Sarkozy has argued that the fact he pushed for NATO to intervene militarily against the Gaddafi regime in 2011- an intervention that culminated with Gaddafi's killing- shows he was not in the Libyan leader's pocket.