On October 3rd 2022, French prosecutors announced that Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, secretary-general of the Élysée Palace, was under investigation for “unlawful” conflict of interest. The case centres on when, as a senior civil servant, Kohler represented the French state holdings agency, the APE, on the board of shipbuilding company STX France without declaring his family ties with one of STX’s biggest clients, Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC. He later took leave of the APE to join MSC as its financial director, before becoming Macron’s chief of staff in 2017. The reports below detail the affair and its developments since Mediapart’s first revelations in 2018.
On September 23rd the president's chief of staff was placed under formal investigation for “unlawful conflict of interest” over claims he hid his family ties to the MSC shipping line and intervened in its favour on several occasions while working as a senior civil servant. Alexis Kohler has also been placed under the status of “assisted witness” for “influence peddling” in relation to the same case. As Martine Orange reports, the news comes after the Élysée spent five years trying – in vain - to bury the case.
President Emmanuel Macron's key aide in the Élysée, his chief of staff Alexis Kohler, has faced two investigations into an alleged “conflict of interest” and “influence peddling” over his family links with major shipping line MSC. The first was dropped back in 2018 but another was launched in 2020 and is still ongoing. The current investigation has unearthed some troubling documents for Alexis Kohler, whose official title is secretary-general of the Élysée. Not only do they show him to have been far more involved than thought with issues involving MSC while working as a civil servant, some potentially important documents and emails have also vanished from certain locations - though they have been retrieved elsewhere – in what appears to have been an attempt to remove the paper trail of his interventions. Martine Orange reports on the continuing investigation into President Macron's right-hand man.
President Emmanuel Macron intervened personally in an investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving his chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, Mediapart can reveal. In the summer of 2019 a statement from the president was sent to France's financial crimes prosecution unit clearing Kohler's name after detectives investigating the case had written a damning report. Following President Macron's intervention, a second police report was written which reached very different conclusions. A month later, the whole case was dropped. Martine Orange investigates a move by the president which appears to breach the doctrine of the separation of powers between the government and the judicial system.
Contrary to what he has stated, President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff Alexis Kohler has not always revealed his family links to the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), and in his duties as a senior public servant has not always stood aside from issues involving the giant Italian-Swiss shipping firm. Official documents from the major French port of Le Havre, seen by Mediapart, show that Kohler took part in discussions and votes concerning the company while he sat on the port's Supervisory Board as a civil servant from 2010 to 2012. Laurent Mauduit and Martine Orange investigate.
The French prosecution services have launched an investigation into suspected corruption by President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff Alexis Kohler, following an official complaint lodged by anti-corruption NGO Anticor. The complaint cited revelations last month by Mediapart into Kohler’s role, when he was a senior civil servant, in affairs in which the interests of a shipping company owned by members of his close family were at stake. Mediapart’s Martine Orange, who first broke the story, details here the background to the case that now threatens the downfall of the man described by French daily Le Monde as “the most powerful senior civil servant in France”.
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.