Macron’s Top Adviser Under Formal Investigation For Conflict Of Interest

Kohler's lawyer said in a statement on Monday that he "categorically denied any wrongdoing," while an official in Macron's office said the presidential chief of staff remains in his position.

Macron’s Top Adviser Under Formal Investigation For Conflict Of Interest - SurgeZirc FR
Macron’s Top Adviser Under Formal Investigation For Conflict Of Interest.

Kohler, the secretary-general of the Élysée presidential office, is facing allegations related to his professional and family ties to the Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC, which is run by his mother’s cousins.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that “Alexis Kohler, currently the secretary-general of the French presidency, has been placed under formal investigation for unlawful taking of interest.”

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Kohler’s lawyer said in a statement on Monday that he “categorically denied any wrongdoing,” while an official in Macron’s office said the presidential chief of staff remains in his position.

In 2018, Anticor, an anti-corruption non-governmental organization, filed a legal complaint against Kohler for illegal influence peddling in connection with contracts awarded to MSC in 2010 and 2011.

MSC was founded by Kohler’s mother’s billionaire cousins, and Kohler joined the company as finance director in 2016 while continuing to work as an adviser on Macron’s presidential campaign.

Kohler, whose office at the Élysée Palace is next to the president’s, is frequently referred to as Macron’s right-hand man.

His job entails dealing with emergencies, major economic and social issues, and making some political decisions.

Kohler’s lawyer, Éric Dezeuze, stated that the discovery of evidence related to the charges would allow him to “prove his innocence.

However, Anticor lawyer Jean-Baptiste Soufron stated that “the issue of his resignation is now on the table.”

Macron’s office previously stated that Kohler had never concealed his family ties to the Aponte family, which owns MSC.
The cruise line is one of the largest clients of the French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique, which built the Queen Mary 2, which the French government has tried to restructure several times over the years.

The complaint alleges a conflict of interest stemming from Kohler’s dealings with MSC while working for the French state holdings agency from 2012 to 2014, and then as a senior official on Macron’s team at the finance ministry from 2014 to 2016.

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When Macron stepped down as economy minister in 2016, Kohler left the finance ministry. He then relocated to Geneva to join the board of MSC. Following Macron’s election in 2017, Kohler resigned from that position to join the Élysée.

A formal investigation, according to French law, indicates that there is evidence implicating a suspect but does not imply that the person being investigated has been charged.

If new evidence emerges, the person may be charged at a later date, or the investigation may be dropped.

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