French prosecutor opens probe into role of consultancy groups

French prosecutor opens probe into role of consultancy groups

France's financial prosecutor has opened an investigation into the role of consultancy groups including McKinsey in the French election, which took place in 2017 and 2022, when Emmanuel Macron was elected and then won a second term.

The financial prosecutor's office confirmed that the investigation into potential tax fraud by the US-based consultancy giant McKinsey had been expanded to include consulting firms' involvement in the two election races. The investigation is looking into allegations of improperly keeping campaign accounts, undervaluing the role of consulting firms and favoritism. The prosecutor did not reveal any politician or party as a target of the inquiry and did not confirm a report in the Le Parisien daily that the investigation focused on Macron's campaign.

The centrist president's office said that they had taken note of the investigation and that prosecutors needed to carry out their work in all independence that Macron swept to power and promised to clean up politics in France. An investigation does not necessarily lead to a prosecution or imply guilt. It can take years before an investigation is going to trial.

A judicial investigation was opened on 20 October 2022, just as Macron ran for re-election earlier this year, according to the financial prosecutor. Following several reports and complaints from elected officials and individuals, the French senate condemned what it called the sprawling phenomenon of dozens of private and international firms being hired to advise the government.

The opposition accused Macron of spending too much money on international consultancies that pay little or no tax in France.

The French press called the McKinsey affair after the senate alleged in March that the firm used a system of tax optimisation through its Delaware-based parent company and was not paying enough corporate taxes in France.

McKinsey has denied any wrongdoing and said it respects French tax rules that apply to it.