Reuters report that France’s financial prosecutor opened an inquiry into allegations President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff breached conflict of interest rules while working in the state holdings agency and finance ministry, the prosecutor’s office said. Macron’s office on Monday dismissed the allegations as “completely unfounded”. “Alexis Kohler will willingly send to prosecutors all of the documents that prove his respect of the law during his professional life,” the presidency said in a statement.
Kohler left the economy ministry in 2016 to join Swiss-based MSC as finance director but continued to work on Macron’s bid for the presidency in his spare time.
The preliminary investigation comes after anti-graft group Anticor filed a complaint accusing Alexis Kohler of influence peddling and breaking conflict of interest rules over his ties to the MSC while in public office. The probe will look into Kohler’s time as a senior civil servant in France’s economy ministry from 2012-2016, the latter two years of which he spent as a cabinet director to Macron who was minister at the time.
Kohler and the president’s office deny the allegations, which were first reported by French investigative media group Mediapart. The national financial crimes’ prosecutor office said it would check whether Kohler respected conflict of interest rules for civil servants as he “could have dealt with issues of interest” to MSC.
According to The Local (France), Kohler’s mother is a cousin of Rafaela Aponte, whose husband Gianlugi founded the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) in 1970 and built it up into a global leader in container shipping and cruise holidays.French investigative website Mediapart was the first to reveal Kohler’s family ties to the firm. The revelations form the basis of the legal complaint filed by transparency campaign group Anticor last Friday.