Former president Nicolas Sarkozy's closest aide, Claude Guéant, has been charged* with complicity in favouritism in the latest legal case to hit the mainstream right leader's entourage, reports RFI.
Sarkozy has so far escaped charges but Guéant, who served as interior minister under his presidency, has been convicted in another case and charged* in yet another.
Guéant's latest legal troubles concern a contract to provide opinion polls to the presidency signed with the Publifact company, made without calling for competing tenders.
It authorised the company to buy the results of polls on any subjects it wanted from any source it wanted for a fee of 10,000 euros per month.
A 2009 audit found that Publifact, which later became Publiopinion, delivered 250 polls, some of which had already been published in the media, to the Elysée presidential palace between 2007 and 2009 at a 65-70 per cent profit of 1.4 million euros.
*Editor's note: Under a change to the French legal system introduced in 1993, a magistrate can decide a suspect should be 'placed under investigation' (mise en examen), which is a status one step short of being charged (inculpé), if there is 'serious or concordant' evidence that they committed a crime. Some English-language media describe this status, peculiar to French criminal law, as that of being charged. In fact, it is only at the end of an investigation that a decision can be made to bring charges, in which case the accused is automatically sent for trial.