Reuters NewMedia - January 6, 2012
PARIS (Reuters) - The Global Fund, a wealthy medical charity, on
Friday dismissed as "inexact and misleading" a magazine report of
alleged financial misconduct implicating French first lady Carla
Bruni, who is one of its ambassadors.
The Geneva-based fund issued the statement after the French
magazine Marianne said in an article the fund had awarded $3.5
million of contracts to companies controlled by a musician friend
of Bruni, the wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy, at her request.
The multi-billion-dollar fund, set up 10 years ago to combat
AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, issued the money without a public
tender, Marianne said.
"The article makes several allegations that are groundless
regarding a campaign that the Fund launched in 2010 with the
backing of Mme Bruni-Sarkozy," its statement said.
Sarkozy's office declined to comment, saying it had nothing to
add to the statement from the Global Fund.
The focus of the story is an AIDS awareness campaign called Born
HIV Free which the fund said cost a total of $2.8 million and
which allowed it to leverage further support worth $20.4 million
in the form of free advertising and creative work by media
A Global Fund official said Bruni had asked a friend, Julien
Civange, to represent her and develop a concept of how
entertainment could be used to publicise the AIDS fight.
Based on Civange's idea, the Fund agreed to pay him and four
employees 580,000 euros over 18 months to develop a campaign, in
accordance with the fund's rules which allow non-competitive
contracting when an individual has a proprietary idea.
"As part of this process, Mr Civange brought in pro-bono
contributions worth $20.4 million through free media placements,
advertising and creative work," said the official.
Bruni, a singer and former supermodel who married Sarkozy in
early 2008, was appointed "first ambassador" in the same year of
the Global Fund. Her husband was elected in 2007 and is widely
expected to run for a second term in an election less than four
months from now.
The Global Fund, a public-private partnership, was set up in 2002
and says it has saved 7.7 million lives with funding for AIDS
treatment and programmes worldwide to fight malaria and
(Reporting By Brian Love and Patrick Vignal; Editing by Jon