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France's Macron faces possible legal woes over election consultants

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
France's Macron faces possible legal woes over election consultants
(Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron faces possible legal problems after prosecutors announced Thursday they were investigating the use of management consulting firms during national elections in 2017 and 2022.

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Although a statement from the National Financial Prosecutors' Office did not name Macron's campaign specifically, his election team is thought to be
the main target of two separate probes.

The use of consultants came under the spotlight in March following an investigation by the French Senate, which concluded that public spending on
them had more than doubled from 2018-2021 during Macron's first term in office.

Total outlays reached more than a €1 billion  last year, a figure frequently cited by Macron's opponents during his successful bid for a second term this April.

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Investigative news website Mediapart has reported that consultants from the US-based McKinsey group worked for free on Macron's campaign in 2017.

His office said, "it was up the justice system to complete these investigations in full independence".

READ ALSO What is the ‘Affaire McKinsey’ and could it derail Macron’s re-election campaign?

The prosecutors' office said that two probes had been underway since October into the use of consultants during the 2017 and 2022 elections.

They would look into charges relating to possible false election campaign accounting and underestimating campaign spending, as well as possible favouritism and conspiracy in favouritism.

France has strict rules on campaign financing that place limits on what a candidate is allowed to use.

For the 2022 presidential election, each candidate had a maximum of €16.8 million for the first round and €22.5 million for the second.

Several French politicians have been convicted over the years for overspending or attempting to disguise campaign spending, including late former president Jacques Chirac.

Fellow rightwing ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy received a one-year prison sentence in September last year for illegal financing of his 2012 re-election
bid. Judges concluded that Sarkozy had spent nearly twice the legal limit on his failed bid for a second term.

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