French justice is investigating the accounts of President Emmanuel Macron‘s 2017 and 2022 election campaigns. After a first preliminary investigation opened last March against the consultancy firm McKinsey for tax fraud, yesterday there were news of two other investigations opened on October 20 and 21.
The first one for “non-compliant conservation of country accounts and underestimation of accounting elements”, regarding McKinsey’s participation in Macron’s race for the Elysée in 2017 and 2022 and the second one for “favouritism and concealment of favouritism”.
In practice, the magistrates want to verify the regularity of relations between the McKinsey consultants and the then-presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The matter sparked calls for Macron’s resignation, with Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois, telling Express.co.uk: “Macron and his political party have conflicts of interest everywhere. Still the most symbolic one remains McKinsey. This private company had decided the whole COVID-19 policy of the French government.
“It’s a pity itself as they are not moved by public interest and they were at the same time doing consulting for Pfizer which was selling its vaccine and treatment to the French government.
“But it gets worse than that. We do know that the McKinsey boys were campaigning for Macron in 2017 and then his government has paid for almost fake consulting missions. The total bill for the consulting cabinet, among which was McKinsey, is close to a billion euro.
“When you know that Boris Johnson had to quit for a private party, Emmanuel Macron, if only he had a bit of decency, should resign for this affair.”
The French presidency declared in the evening that it had “acknowledged the communication from the national financial prosecution relating to the opening of two investigations following complaints presented by elected figures and associations”.
They added: “It is up to the judiciary to conduct these investigations in total independence.”
Three judges have been instructed to be in charge of the investigation, including Serge Tournaire, known for having investigated former premier François Fillon and the fictitious jobs of his wife Penelope (scandal that had cost Fillon the Elysium), and for the investigation into former president Nicola Sarkozy protagonist of the Bygmalion case.
President Macron is protected by immunity until the end of his mandate (2027).
However, the new investigations embarrass him from a political point of view because already last spring, on the eve of the presidential vote, he had had to deny any favouritism towards McKinsey, recalling that the government was subject to “public procurement rules”.
Nonetheless, the investigation expanded, starting from the fact that contracts between the French state and consultancy companies more than doubled between 2018 and 2021, reaching the figure of €1 billion last year. Among these companies is McKinsey, which paid no corporate tax in France between 2011 and 2020, despite an estimated €329 million in 2020 revenue in France.
In March 2022, the investigative newspaper Mediapart reported how McKinsey had already supported Emmanuel Macron as economy minister, even before he declared himself a candidate in the 2017 presidential election.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Henry Jackson Society’s Associate Research Fellow Dr Helena Ivanov said the latest scandal hitting President Macron could be lethal for his party and prompt a further surge in far-right voters.
She said: “This could be quite damaging for Macron and his political party. Even the fact that the investigation is opened is already damaging as it creates doubts – at what is already not a very good time for Macron and his political party.
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“Perhaps even more problematically, this investigation and the alleged claims are even more damaging given the overall narrative of Macron as the president of the rich – and these allegations are contributing to this narrative.
“Of course, we are yet to see the outcome of the investigation – and obviously, should the claims be proven true, we can expect this to be very bad for Macron – but even if untrue, the investigation itself is likely to be damaging for Macron and we can expect his opponents to use this against him.”
She added: “The threat of the far-right is real in France – whilst Macron did win the elections, we should remember that Le Pen had the best performance this year.
“If we want to prevent the rise of the far-right in France, we need to start engaging the population that votes far-right now – rather than wait until the electoral campaign beings as that is likely to be too little too late.
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“Macron’s inability to deal with immigration, coupled with the latest scandal will surely be used against him by the far-right political parties, and given their performance in the past, it is likely that this will bring them even more votes.”
An investigation by French daily Le Monde documented the links between McKinsey and President Macron: in particular, Karim Tadjeddine, head of the group’s public sector, Eric Hazan of the digital sector and Guillaume de Ranieri allegedly participated informally in the 2017 election campaign and defence).
After Mr Macron’s victory, consultant Ariane Komorn left McKinsey for a role in the presidential party, while another consultant, Mathieu Maucort (at McKinsey from 2013 to 2016) was then deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State for Digital Mounir Mahjoubi.
The investigations want to ascertain whether the links between McKinsey and Mr Macron and his entourage are legitimate or not.