According to the daily, Mr. Bernardini was auditioned by the PNF in the framework of an investigation for "criminal conspiracy to commit crimes of illegal capture of interests, trading in influence by person charged with a mission of public service, "says AFP.
Ex-strongman of the PS of Bouches-du-Rhone of which he was the first secretary in the 1990s before being elected to the presidency of the General Council, Mr. Bernardini, elected mayor of Istres in 2001, had resigned from office after his conviction on appeal in 2002 to 18 months suspended sentence, five years ineligibility and 60,980 euros fine in a file for breach of trust. He was reelected in 2008 and 2014 and is a candidate for his succession in 2020.
He was pinned by the Regional Chamber of the Court of Accounts (CRC) in 2017 in particular for the dubious award of public contracts, "practices complacent for the benefit of certain agents" and irregularities in governance.
The CRC found that "the managers of three companies, mostly awarded contracts for prime contracting and works of the city or contractors (…) were also associated with the mayor of the municipalities of Istres or members of his family in real estate civil societies ".
The financial prosecutor's office had also opened an investigation into suspicion of favoritism when awarding public contracts to the companies of a construction contractor whose wife was Mr. Bernardini's assistant.
Mr. Bernardini was a member of the Bouches-du-Rhône from 1992 to 1993 and a member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 1999.