French prosecutors are investigating alleged illegal election financing

Financial prosecutors in France said Thursday they had opened an investigation into suspected illegal financing of the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.

A leading French newspaper reported that the investigation is focused on President Emmanuel Macron’s election results.

Prosecutors said in a written statement that they wanted to provide clarification following a press report, in an apparent reference to the newspaper Le Parisien that reported earlier in the day an alleged investigation into Macron’s 2017 campaign and its ties to US consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

The prosecutor’s statement, without citing Macron or his party, said a judicial investigation had been launched on October 20 into alleged “inconsistencies in election accounts” and “reduction of accounting staff” in relation to consulting firms working on the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.

The next day, a second investigation was launched into alleged favoritism related to those campaigns, it said.

Campaign financing in France is strictly regulated.

Le Parisien, citing unnamed sources, said the commissioners are focusing on the terms of the major contracts between McKinsey and the state after Macron’s election.

An official at the French presidency said the Elysee Palace had been made aware of communications from the financial prosecutor’s office regarding the opening of two legal investigations. … It is up to the judicial system to lead investigations in complete independence.” The official was not authorized to be named publicly under the president’s policy.

Representatives of McKinsey in France do not want to comment on the investigation.

The investigation follows another investigation launched by French financial prosecutors in March of this year into McKinsey’s suspected tax evasion. The company said at the time that it “respects the French tax rules applicable to it”.

That investigation was launched two weeks after a report by the French Senate said McKinsey had not paid corporate profits taxes in the country since at least 2011. The report also questioned the government’s use of private consultants.

Macron said at the time that he was shocked by the suspicions of tax evasion by consulting firms.

The so-called “McKinsey affair” drew criticism from Macron’s rivals ahead of the French presidential election that saw him win a second term in April.

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