An open investigation into the role of consulting firms, in particular for the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections – France

The national financial prosecutor’s office opened two judicial inquiries at the end of October, one “on the conditions of intervention of consulting firms in the electoral campaigns of 2017 and 2022”, the other on suspicions of “favoritism” concerning them, said indicated this Thursday the financial public prosecutor, Jean-François Bohnert, in a press release.

During the last presidential campaign, a Senate report sparked heated controversy over the use of public funds and the opposition called for an investigation into possible favoritism by the Macronist majority for the benefit of the consulting firm McKinsey.

Asked, the Elysée did not immediately respond. After an article from Le Parisien, the PNF this Thursday published a press release to “clarify the situation of various criminal proceedings” initiated after the report of the Senate and various complaints and reports.

The prosecution specifies that “following several reports and complaints from elected officials and individuals, a judicial investigation was opened on October 20, 2022, in particular of the heads of non-compliant keeping of campaign accounts and reduction of accounting elements in an account of campaign, relating to the conditions of intervention of consulting firms in the electoral campaigns of 2017 and 2022”.

The public prosecutor also adds that “following several complaints from elected officials and associations”, another information “was opened on October 21, 2022 from the heads of favoritism and concealment of favouritism”.

Published on March 16, the report of the Senate commission of inquiry into the growing influence of private consulting firms on public policies, initiated by the majority communist CRCE group, ensured that the contracts signed between the State and the firms had “more than doubled” between 2018 and 2021, for a record amount of more than 1 billion euros in 2021.

The opposition immediately demanded the opening of an investigation into the links between the Macronist majority and McKinsey.

According to Mediapart, some members of the cabinet could have worked for free during Emmanuel Macron’s victorious presidential campaign in 2017.

The Senate report also pointed to a possible tax arrangement for McKinsey’s French entities, which would have allowed them to pay no corporate tax between 2011 and 2020.

In his press release, Jean-François Bohnert recalled that a preliminary investigation had already been underway on these facts since March 31 for “aggravated laundering of aggravated tax evasion”. It resulted in a search of McKinsey’s French headquarters on May 24.

“Let them go to the criminal”

The head of state, whose name does not appear in the PNF press release, is protected by his criminal immunity, provided for in article 67 of the Constitution. According to this article of the supreme law, the Head of State “cannot, during his term of office and before any French jurisdiction or administrative authority, be required to testify or be the subject of an action, an act information, instruction or prosecution”.

If the investigating magistrates were to consider that Emmanuel Macron must explain himself on these questions, they could summon him at the end of his second term at the Élysée, and only on the acts which were not committed in the exercise of his duties as President.

During the 2022 presidential election, in the midst of controversy, Emmanuel Macron had estimated that the non-payment of corporate tax by McKinsey was explained by the tax rules in force. “If there is evidence of manipulation, let it go to the criminal court,” he said.

“McKinsey has no information on the elements published by the press today,” the group reacted on Thursday.

The chairman of the Senate commission of inquiry Arnaud Bazin and the rapporteur Éliane Assassi indicated for their part that they had “full confidence in the justice system to conduct this investigation”. “Full light must be shed on this affair, which is of major importance for our democratic life”.

They recalled that the Senate had unanimously adopted in mid-October a bill which aims to better regulate the services of consulting firms, but which must still be placed on the agenda of the Assembly.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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