French McKinsey probe expands to include campaign finance

PARIS — French prosecutors have launched investigations into the role consulting firms played in France’s 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, expanding an existing investigation into consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

Earlier this year, French economic prosecutors opened a tax fraud and money laundering investigation against McKinsey.

It came shortly after the French Senate claimed that McKinsey, which is based in New York, had not paid corporate tax in France for at least a decade, despite earning 329 million euros, equivalent to about $343 million, in revenue in country in 2020 and employs approximately 600 people.

The same report describes how President Emmanuel Macron’s government spent almost 900 million euros last year on consultants, including McKinsey.

Those revelations drew fire from opposition lawmakers, who criticized Mr Macron’s use of multinational consulting firms, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

France’s economic prosecutors issued a statement on Thursday saying they had widened their existing investigation last month after receiving unspecified complaints from elected officials. Prosecutors said they were investigating alleged campaign finance irregularities in the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections. A spokesman for the finance ministry declined to say whose campaigns were being audited or provide more details about the investigation.

The French president’s office and a McKinsey spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. McKinsey said it is cooperating fully with authorities.

The issue provided fodder for Mr Macron’s opponents during the 2022 presidential campaign.

The government said governments’ use of private consulting firms was in line with that of other countries, pointing to a section of the Senate report that said France used them less than Germany, the UK and other European neighbours. Two-thirds of total consultancy spending was on information technology and cyber security services, the government said.

Mr Macron was re-elected in April by a margin of 17 points, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at [email protected]

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