The retired Chirac, 76, who was mayor from 1977 until 1995 when he was elected president, is not certain to go on trial, however, as Paris public prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin had previously said that there was no case against him.

Marin is likely to appeal the decision by Xaviere Simeoni, a magistrate whose role is to investigate cases and decide whether suspects should face trial. In that case, an appeals court would take the final decision in another year or so.

The charges investigated by Simeoni relate to 35 work contracts that were allegedly awarded by the Paris city hall to friends or associates of the Chirac political camp as favours, for non-existent jobs.