Alexandre Benalla, former security aide to President Macron, is in the limelight yet again.
A recent visit to Chad by Emannuel Macron has fanned the flames of 'Benallagate' yet again.
Read RFI's article "The embarrassing business trips of Alexandre Benalla"
A private plane and generous credit card
French daily Le Monde revealed that a few days before Emmanuel Macron's trip to visit French troops in Chad, Alexandre Benalla visited the country with a group of 12 businessmen.
The delegation arrived in a private plane and paid expenses with a credit card.
On Wednesday, the French presidency told French TV channel LCI that Benalla "never informed them of his trips, except on December 20 (for Chad), when he realised everyone would end up knowing about it”.
Benalla not official intermediary, says French government
This came as a further embarrassment for the Elysée Palace amid a time of political turmoil.
The president's former security aide already faces two criminal charges after a video emerged this summer showing him manhandling demonstrators in Paris wearing a police helmet and armband.
During his trip to Chad on 22 December, Emmanuel Macron reminded President Idriss Deby that Benalla “was in no way an unofficial or official intermediary" of the French government
"Only the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the President's special counsel Philippe Etienne and Franck Paris represent the head of state on this trip", the Elysée Palace clarified.
However, Benalla said he had always informed the French presidency before or after any of his trips. “In the case of Chad, I informed them afterwards”, he confirmed.
He told LCI he was "shocked" and "scandalised" by statements from the French presidency.
"I will reveal all", an angry Benalla told the press on Wednesday.
Benalla to create jobs in Chad?
Benalla’s inner circle also informed French news channel LCI that Benalla made “dozens of trips to Africa over the last weeks, and had several African presidents”, including Chadian president Idriss Deby.
According to them, Benalla was travelling with investors from the Middle-East that he met in 2012, before working with Macron.
The former bodyguard told LCI he is trying to “rebuild his professional life”.
« I am a consultant for companies in Chad, aiming to create 3.000 jobs in N’Djamena » he said.