Mystery of the giant shipping line linked to President Macron's chief of staff

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Why was Alexis Kohler, who is now secretary general at the Elysee and chief of staff to President Emmanuel Macron, so keen to become finance director at the shipping firm MSC and its cruise company subsidiary MSC Cruises? Yes, the Italian-Swiss group is world number two in maritime freight, is a major cruise company and controls a number of port terminals. But it also uses tax havens and practices tax avoidance, keeps its business confidential and operates in an environment where dangerous shadows lurk. Martine Orange and Cecilia Ferrara investigate.

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No one understood and no one understands. What are the reasons which made senior civil servant Alexis Kohler want to join MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) and MSC only when he wanted to move into the private sector? Was it a question of family, given that his mother is a first cousin of Rafaela Aponte, who co-founded the group with her husband Gianluigi? That is indeed how Kohler – who is now secretary general at the Élysée and President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff – justifies this move from public to private sector, a practice known in France as 'pantouflage'. Yet that is not what he told the ethics commission from whom he has always hidden his family links (see Mediapart's investigation here).