French minister to face anti-corruption investigators over Vegas event with Macron

French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud will be questioned by a judge this month over suspected favouritism involving a 2016 event in Las Vegas featuring Emmanuel Macron, the current French president who was economy minister at the time, her office said Tuesday.

French minister to face anti-corruption investigators over Vegas event with Macron
Muriel Penicaud (L) and Emmanuel Macron (R) in Las Vegas, 2016. Photo: AFP
Before joining Macron's cabinet Penicaud headed Business France, the agency spearheading the government's efforts to attract foreign investors and promote homegrown companies abroad.
She hired French advertising and public-relations firm Havas to organise a promotional evening at the Consumer Electronics Show, a top industry gathering in Las Vegas where Macron was the star speaker.
An inquiry was opened by investigating magistrates last July after reports that the contract for the event, which cost nearly 400,000 euros ($475,000), was awarded without putting out a public tender as required by French law.
Penicaud has been summoned for questioning by a judge on May 22 as an “assisted witness”, meaning she can be accompanied by a lawyer, her office told AFP, confirming a report in the Canard Enchaine investigative weekly.
The left-leaning Liberation newspaper had reported last year that an audit of the event had found “no purchase order, no signed contract, no bill” connected with the Vegas event with Macron, whose presidential ambitions were already becoming evident to many.
The bill was later negotiated down to about 290,000 euros, but other reports claimed Penicaud waited six months before revealing the audit to Business France's board of directors.
Anti-corruption investigators searched the offices of Havas and Business France last June, discovering an email suggesting that Penicaud had been “briefed” ahead of the event that it could raise red flags.
Havas, for its part, has said it assumed that the event fell under a “framework contract” it signed with Business France in June 2015 — after winning a public tender — and did not require a separate bidding process. 
Penicaud is currently orchestrating an overhaul of France's unemployment benefits system, part of Macron's wide-ranging economic reforms that have prompted a stream of protests in recent weeks.

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Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.