A search was underway on Tuesday afternoon, May 24, at the French headquarters of the consulting firm McKinsey located on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, learned Agence France-Presse (AFP), from the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office. (PNF). AFP journalists had noted, Tuesday in the middle of the day, the presence of police officers with customs armbands at the reception of McKinsey’s headquarters.

This search is part of the preliminary investigation opened on March 31 for aggravated money laundering of aggravated tax evasion, confirmed the PNF, requested by AFP. The PNF opened this investigation following the report of the Senate commission of inquiry into the influence of private consulting firms on public policy, during Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term.

A record amount of contracts with consulting firms

The French entities of the McKinsey firm were accused in a senatorial report published in mid-March of having put in place a tax arrangement allowing them to pay no corporate tax between 2011 and 2020. McKinsey defended itself by claiming to respect French tax rules, specifying that one of its subsidiaries had paid corporation tax for six years over the period mentioned by the Senate.

The latter had noted the growing influence of the firm and more generally of consulting firms in the state apparatus. In this report submitted on March 16, this commission assured that the contracts concluded between the State and several consulting firms had “more than doubled” between 2018 and 2021, reaching a record amount of more than one billion euros in 2021.

The government’s use of this American cabinet to support the executive in the policy of vaccination against Covid-19 had already sparked controversy in January 2021, in addition to that of the end of the presidential campaign. Olivier Dussopt and Amélie de Montchalin, then ministers of public accounts and the civil service, even led a press conference on March 30 to justify state spending.

“Let it go to criminals”

The revelations of the commission of inquiry had sparked heated controversy during the presidential campaign over the use of public funds. The opposition had repeatedly called for the opening of an investigation into what it considers to be favoritism which the Macronist majority would show for the benefit of this consulting firm, some of whose members were able to work for Emmanuel Macron, in particular during of the 2017 presidential campaign.

Then candidate, Emmanuel Macron had estimated that the non-payment of corporate tax by McKinsey was explained by the tax rules in force. “If there is evidence of manipulation, let it go to the criminal court,” he said on March 27 to those who accused him of these numerous contracts.

The PNF investigation was finally launched on March 31 after an internal assessment of the file, which consisted of carrying out initial cross-checks and verifications on the nature of the revelations of the Senate report. It was entrusted to the finance judicial investigation service, the tax police created in 2019 in Bercy.