French prosecutors are investigating illegal election financing

French national financial prosecutors said Thursday they have opened an investigation into suspected illegal financing of election campaigns in 2017 and 2022.

A leading French newspaper reported that the investigation is targeting the winning efforts of President Emmanuel Macron.

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

The prosecution’s statement, without citing Macron or his party, said that a judicial investigation was opened on October 20 regarding “inconsistent campaign accounts” and “reduction of accounting items” in relation to consulting firms operating during the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.

She added that another investigation was opened the next day regarding alleged favoritism in connection with these campaigns.

Campaign financing in France is strictly regulated.

Le Parisien newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said the judges were focusing on the terms under which some key contracts between McKinsey and the state were concluded after Macron’s election.

A French presidential official said the Elysee Palace “has learned of the communication from the financial prosecutor’s office about the opening of two judicial investigations. … It is up to the justice system to lead the investigations independently.” The official was not authorized to be named publicly in accordance with presidential policy.

McKinsey’s representatives in France did not comment on the investigation.

The investigation follows another investigation opened in March this year by French financial prosecutors over suspected tax fraud by McKinsey. The company said at the time that it “respects the French tax rules that apply to it”.

That investigation was opened two weeks after a French Senate report said McKinsey had not paid corporate profit 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 suspicions of tax evasion by consulting firms.

The so-called “McKenzie affair” drew criticism from Macron’s opponents ahead of the French presidential election that led to him winning a second term in April.

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