French prosecutor’s investigation into McKinsey expanded to cover role in Macron’s election campaigns

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

The prosecutor’s office confirmed that it had expanded an existing investigation into alleged tax fraud by consultancy group McKinsey’s to include the role of consultancy groups in the 2017 and 2022 election races.

It did not confirm that the investigation focused on Macron’s campaign, but said it released its statement in response to the newspaper reports.

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

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McKinsey has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

If the probe is confirmed to be aimed at his campaign, Macron would be the closest thing to a judicial inquiry, taking power and promising to clean up politics in France. Le Parisien said the investigation focused on Macron’s campaign, but not Macron himself.

Presidents in France enjoy immunity while in office.

An investigation does not necessarily lead to prosecution or imply guilt. It could be years before such probes are shelved or brought to trial.

The financial prosecutor said the extensive investigation had been opened following a series of complaints from politicians and associations.

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“Following several reports and complaints from elected officials and individuals, a judicial inquiry was opened on October 20, 2022,” the PNF said. In particular, it looked at allegations of “improper campaign accounting” and “undervaluing the role of consulting firms in the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns”.

A judicial inquiry was also opened into allegations of favoritism and concealment of favouritism.

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

Macron’s government’s use of private advisers exploded as an unexpected problem ahead of this spring’s presidential election, in which Macron won a second term.

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The opposition had accused Macron’s government of overspending on international consultancies that pay little or no tax in France.

That first investigation into the American management consultancy came after the French Senate in March alleged that the company did not pay corporate taxes in France.

Police closed McKinsey’s Paris office in May over an investigation into suspected tax fraud, the 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 that McKinsey would have to pay any taxes it may owe.

(Reuters)

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