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Amid the escalating revelations in a series of graft scandals rocking the French political establishment, a net is now closing in on former French interior minister Claude Guéant, a longstanding close aide to former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Guéant is one of the key figures under investigation in a judicial probe into the suspected illegal funding of Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In a separate judicial investigation into the suspected fraudulent payment in 2008 of 403 million euros to business tycoon Bernard Tapie, a friend of Sarkozy, Guéant’s name is cited in several witness statements as a central figure to secret meetings held to organise the payout. But in what appeared as an almost anecdotal revelation compared to the implications of those investigations, it emerged this week that Guéant, 68, received a secret monthly tax-free gift of 10,000 euros paid in cash while he served as chief-of-staff to Sarkozy when the latter was interior minister. The Paris public prosecutor's office announced on Friday the opening of an investigation into the cash handed to Guéant, estimated to total 240,000 euros, and which was paid from a fund destined for special police operations. Louise Fessard reports.
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