Macron denies being the primary target of the campaign finance investigation

Macron denies being the primary target of the campaign finance investigation


French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday denied being the main target of a judicial probe into the government’s use of business advisers and their role in recent election campaigns.

France’s financial crime prosecutors announced late Thursday that they had opened an investigation believed to be focused on Macron and his 2017 and 2022 presidential campaigns.

“I’m not afraid of anything,” the 44-year-old leader told reporters during a trip to the city of Dijon.

“I believe your servant is not the focus of the investigation,” he added, referring to himself.

“It is normal for the justice system to do its job. It does so freely and will shed light on this matter.”

The prosecutor’s statement did not name Macron or his campaign, but investigators were investigating allegations of favoritism and covert campaign financing related to business consulting.

The investigation began after complaints following the release of a Senate report in March that showed government spending on advisers more than doubling during Macron’s first term of 2017-22.

The accusation of favoritism could relate to US-based consulting firm McKinsey, which was the biggest beneficiary of those contracts and allegedly provided staff to Macron’s 2017 campaign team for free.

– KcKinseygate? –

“I’m telling you no,” Macron replied when asked about the allegation, adding that he had already explained himself “a hundred times”.

Senate revelations about spending on advisers – which reached €1 billion ($1.1 billion) last year – were echoed by Macron’s opponents during his campaign for a second term in April.

Dubbed “McKinseygate” by the French media, the scandal became a point of discussion, with many French shocked at the use of expensive and foreign firms specializing in strategic consulting and IT services.

Macron has repeatedly defended the use of advisors.

“If you want to be very quick and very strong with a policy, sometimes you have to use outside contractors,” he told reporters in late March.

The investigation is significant because it could be the first to risk implicating the President personally.

Several of his allies, including his current chief of staff, face legal investigations on a number of charges.

– ‘Slow Poison’ –

The most damaging incident involved his former bodyguard, who was filmed beating up protesters in 2018 and was later convicted of assault.

“Right now this issue is totally over the heads of the French, who are obsessed with economic, energy and social considerations,” Frederic Dabi, director of polling institute Ifop, told AFP.

“It remains to be seen whether it will become a slow poison for Macron’s camp when there are a number of legal developments,” he added.

France has strict rules for funding election campaigns and political parties, which have led to many convictions over the past few decades.

Right-wing ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to a year in prison in September 2021 for illegally financing his 2012 re-election campaign.

The judges concluded that Sarkozy had spent nearly double the legal limit on his doomed quest for a second term.

“Let’s stop imagining that there is something outrageous because an investigation has been launched,” MP Sylvain Maillard, interim leader of Macron’s party in Parliament, told Europe 1 on Friday.

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