Sarkozy's ex-advisor under investigation for 'pointless' opinion polls
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A six year legal battle engulfing some of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's closest allies, took a new twist on Wednesday, when his former advisor Patrick Buisson was put under investigation for fraud. He's accused of pocketing more than 10 million euros for conducting opinion polls serving no public interest.
Police are investigating nine polling institutes on charges of "favouritism" and "embezzlement," after they signed lucrative presidential contracts, during Nicolas Sarokzy's five year term, without a proper bidding process.
But it's Patrick Buisson's company Publifact, which has received the most criticism.
Hired by the former President for services ranging from consultancy, reporting, to commenting public opinion, Buisson is alleged to have pocketed 1.5 million euros in just one month after Sarkozy's 2012 election win.
The affair first erupted in 2009, when France's Court of Auditors inspected the President's accounts and found that several contracts had been awarded to Buisson's polling institute without any tenders being issued.
What also raised suspicion was the nature of the surveys commissioned. French citizens for instance were interrogated on their opinion of Sarkozy's relationship with Carla Bruni, or on former Justice minister Rachida Dati's pregnancy, issues deemed to have no public interest.
Sarkozy, a great lover of opinion polls, is believed to have commissioned over a hundred from Buisson's company to the tune of 10 million euros.
However, another ally named Pierre Giacometti, did not miss a slice of the pie, his company Giacometti-Peron raked in more than 2.5 million euros between 2008 and 2012. Giacometti has also been placed under investigation.