Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Macron says core of campaign probe ‘is not about me’ – DW – 11/25/2022

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that he had “nothing to fear” as a judicial investigation was looking into alleged illegal election financing. 

Prosecutors announced Thursday that they were investigating the role of consulting companies in the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.

The latest investigation follows a wider probe into alleged tax fraud by the US consultancy McKinsey.

What did Macron say?

Macron said in his first public comments on the probe that “My 2017 campaign accounts were going through all the procedures and submitted to judges who cleared them. Those of 2022 are currently being checked, like those of every other candidate.”

Macron added there had been several political attacks linked to McKinsey, but stressed that the judiciary must work in an orderly fashion. 

“There must be transparency,” he told journalists.

Prosecutors said they were looking into charges of favoritism linked to deals between the US consulting company and the French government.

Macron said that as president, he did not directly deal with public tenders. 

“The core of the investigation is not about me,” he said.

French election weakens Macron

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What do we know about the probe?

Prosecutors said an investigation was launched on October 20 into “inconsistent campaign accounts” related to consulting companies operating during the 2017 and 2022 electoral campaigns.

Another inquiry was also opened into suspected favoritism in relation to those campaigns.

The prosecutors’ statement did not name Macron or his party specifically. French media had reported that the investigation was targeting Macron’s winning election bids. 

In March, a French Senate investigation concluded that public spending on consultants more than doubled from 2018 to 2021 — during Macron’s first term.

The Senate also reported that McKinsey had not paid any taxes in the country for at least the past 10 years.

A report by the investigative news website Mediapart said consultants from McKinsey had worked for free on Macron’s campaign in 2017.

French politicians and campaign financing

While the probe marks the closest Macron has come to face legal problems, several French politicians have been previously convicted over campaign spending.

Late former President Jacques Chirac was among those politicians. 

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy also received a one-year prison sentence last year over the illegal financing of his 2012 election bid. He has appealed.

How significant is this verdict against Sarkozy?

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fb/ar (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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