The headquarters of President Emmanuel Macron‘s Renaissance party were reportedly searched by French prosecutors on Wednesday as part of their inquiry into the usage of consulting firms by the government since 2017.
The National Financial Prosecutors’ Office confirmed a story in Le Parisien daily that the American consultancy powerhouse McKinsey’s Paris offices were also searched on Tuesday.
Following the conclusion of a French Senate investigation that public spending on consultants had more than doubled from 2018 to 2021, during Macron’s first term, the employment of consultants by Macron’s governments came under scrutiny in March.
A Renaissance spokeswoman, Loic Signor, told AFP that it was “natural for the courts to investigate freely and independently to shed all the light on this matter.”
He stated that the party was still available to the prosecutors “to supply all essential information on the campaigns.”
Additionally, McKinsey acknowledged the search of its facilities and stated that it was “cooperating completely with the authorities.”
Since October, there have been two investigations investigating into conceivable fake election campaign accounting, conceivable favoritism, and conceivable conspiracy.
Prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether certain McKinsey consultants’ free volunteer work for Macron’s successful 2017 election campaign resulted in a covert campaign expense.
Additionally, they are investigating if the company had preferential treatment and access when it won big contracts with the government in the past.
The past “excesses” with the use of consultancy contracts were admitted last month by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, but they had since been “rectified.”
According to the Senate panel study, total expenditures on consulting firms exceeded one billion euros ($1.1 billion) last year. Macron’s opponents repeatedly mentioned this figure during his victorious campaign for a second term in office last April.
The panel also criticized McKinsey’s fiscal practices, which it claimed allowed the US company to avoid paying corporate taxes in France from 2011 to 2020.
The Financial Prosecutor’s Office opened a separate preliminary inquiry in response to that allegation, which resulted in a search of McKinsey’s Paris headquarters on May 24.
The president and his campaign teams have not been publicly identified as the subjects of the investigation, about which Macron declared in November that “I’m not terrified of anything.”
Even though Macron has frequently justified the contracts, the employment of pricey foreign corporations for strategic counsel, nicknamed “McKinseygate” by national media, surprised many French voters.
In March, he told reporters, You need to engage outside contractors occasionally when you want to go very rapidly and very firmly with a policy.
If prosecutors wish to interview Macron directly about the consultancy claims, they may have to wait until 2027, when he leaves office after the constitutional maximum of two five-year terms, when he no longer has presidential immunity.
According to a confidential report cited by Le Monde newspaper on Monday, France’s official auditor, the Cour des Comptes, has also discovered that some contracts for consultancy businesses during the Covid-19 crisis were given out in “problematic” ways.
France has stringent regulations governing the funding of political parties and elections, which have resulted in multiple convictions in recent years.
Nicolas Sarkozy, a former president, was given a one-year prison term in September 2021 for improperly funding his reelection campaign in 2012.
Judges found that Sarkozy nearly spent twice the allowed amount on his futile bid for a second term. He filed a rebuttal to the judgment.