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PARIS — The French prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary investigation into the role played by consulting firms in the 2017 and 2022 presidential campaigns, the national financial prosecutor’s office announced today. The investigation follows a long controversy over President Emmanuel Macron’s ties to US consulting giant McKinsey.
Investigators are looking into allegations of improper campaign accounting and suspicions of under-billing for work done by consulting firms during campaigns. Campaign financing is strictly controlled in France, where corporate financing is illegal and private financing is strictly limited.
Another investigation has been opened into allegations of “favouritism”, according to a press release from the prosecution. According to the newspaper Le Parisien, there are suspicions of wrongdoing regarding the “conditions” under which public contracts were awarded by the French government to the American company McKinsey.
Macron has been repeatedly criticized for his ties to McKinsey, dating back to his first election campaign. POLITICO first reported last year that the government had hired the leading consultancy to help roll out its coronavirus vaccine, raising questions about the Macron administration’s overall use of consultants.
A former senior member of Macron’s Renaissance party dismissed the allegations on Thursday. “I have been dealing with party financing for many years… I can tell you that I am completely calm,” the official said. A representative of the Elysee Palace told Le Parisien that the president had “taken note” of the investigations.
A four-month investigation by senators and published in March found that the French government and public administrations had signed contracts worth at least 2.4 billion euros with consulting firms since 2018.
The report says consultancy spending in ministries has more than doubled since Macron came to power in 2017, with a sharp acceleration in 2021. coronavirus to digital transformation. The senators were particularly indignant at the awarding of a €500,000 contract to study “the evolution of the teaching profession”.
The Senate inquiry committee also accused McKinsey representatives of lying about its tax situation in France during parliamentary hearings. Alleged irregularities in the company’s corporate tax payments in France led to the opening in March of an initial investigation against McKinsey into allegations of money laundering and tax evasion, which are still ongoing.
Controversies over lucrative contracts awarded to consultancies have hampered Macron’s re-election bid this year and led the government to announce new rules to limit the use of outside firms for policymaking.
McKinsey’s attorneys declined to comment.
Paul de Villepin and Océane Herrero contributed to the report.