The French prosecutor’s investigation was expanded to include Macron’s election campaigns

France’s financial prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspected favoritism and alleged illegal financing of President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 campaign, linked to contracts with McKinsey, Le Parisien newspaper said on Thursday.

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The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that it had widened an existing investigation into alleged tax fraud by consultancy firm McKinsey’s to include the consultancy’s role in the 2017 and 2022 election contests.

It did not confirm that the probe targeted Macron’s campaign, but said it issued its statement in response to the newspaper reports.

Macron’s office said it was aware of the investigation, adding that prosecutors must now carry out their work “in all independence”.

McKinsey has consistently denied wrongdoing.

If it is confirmed that the investigation targets his campaign, it would be the closest a judicial investigation has come to Macron, who swept to power promising to clean up French politics. Le Parisien said the probe targeted Macron’s campaign, but it did not say it targeted Macron himself.

Presidents in France enjoy immunity while in office.

An investigation does not necessarily lead to prosecution or imply guilt. It can take years before such investigations are either shelved or go to trial.

The economic prosecutor said the expanded investigation had been launched in response to a series of complaints from politicians and associations.

“Following several reports and complaints from elected officials and individuals, a legal investigation was initiated on October 20, 2022,” the PNF said. In particular, it looked at allegations of “improperly maintaining campaign accounts” and “the underestimation of the consulting firms’ role in the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.”

A legal investigation was also launched into allegations of favoritism and the concealment of favouritism.

A McKinsey spokesperson confirmed a request for comment sent via text but did not comment. Telephone calls to the consultancy’s headquarters in Paris went unanswered.

Macron’s government’s use of private consultants exploded as an unexpected issue ahead of the spring presidential election, in which Macron won a second term.

The opposition had accused Macron’s government of spending too much on international consulting firms that pay little or no tax in France.

The initial investigation into the US management consultancy was launched after the French Senate alleged in March that the company did not pay corporate tax in France.

Police raided McKinsey’s Paris office in May in connection with an investigation into suspected tax fraud, the financial prosecutor’s office said at the time.

“We have nothing to hide,” Budget Minister Olivier Dussopt said at a press conference in March. The government had also said McKinsey would have to pay any taxes it might owe.

(REUTERS)

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