French prosecutors have launched a probe into suspected illegal election financing Emmanuel Macron addresses voters after leading the first round in the polls on April 10, 2022 in Paris, France. © Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 and 2022 election campaigns are reportedly under investigation by the National Financial Prosecutor’s office. The probe is focused on illegal financing of presidential campaigns and suspicions of wrongdoing surrounding contracts with a US-based consulting firm.

The investigation was announced by the prosecutor’s office in a Twitter post on Thursday. Prosecutors did not confirm the probe was targeting Macron’s campaigns, but said they were trying to bring clarification to the issue following media reports. French newspaper Le Parisien has suggested that Macron’s 2017 campaign was linked to US consulting giant McKinsey & Company.

Campaign funding in France is strictly controlled and funding of presidential bids by private companies is illegal. Individual contributions are also heavily regulated.

While the prosecutor’s statement does not mention Macron or his party by name, it says that a judicial inquiry was opened late last month into alleged “inconsistent campaign accounts” and the underbilling of work performed by consultancy firms during recent electoral campaigns. Macron has long faced scrutiny over his alleged ties to McKinsey, dating back to his first election bid in 2017.

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Prosecutors also say they have opened an investigation into suspected favoritism in relation to these campaigns after Le Parisien pointed to suspicious “conditions” under which public contracts were granted to McKinsey by the elected French government.

According to a four-month investigation led by French senators and published in March, the government had signed contracts worth at least $2.4 billion with consultancy firms since 2018. The report suggested that since Macron came into power in 2017, government ministries had more than doubled their expenses on consulting services.

The Justice Ministry has another ongoing investigation examining suspected tax fraud committed by the McKinsey group, which was opened in March. The consulting agency has denied the allegation and insisted that it “respects French tax rules that apply to it.”

Responding to the launch of the criminal probes, Macron also denied any wrongdoing and said he had “nothing to fear” and claimed that the “core of the investigation” was not about him. Previously, the president said he was “shocked” by the suspicions of tax evasion by consulting firms his government had hired. (RT)