French prosecutors opened a probe into Alexis Kohler, one of French President Emmanuel Macron's closest confidantes. Kohler is accused of breaching conflict-of-interest rules over his ties to an Italian shipping company.
French President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, is being investigated over allegations he may have violated conflict-of-interest rules, French anti-corruption prosecutors said on Monday.
The probe follows a report from French investigative website Mediapart which revealed that Kohler has family ties to Italian shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
The report formed the basis of a legal complaint from anti-graft group Anticor, which has accused Kohler of influence peddling during his time as a senior civil servant in France's Economy Ministry from 2012 to 2016.
Following his stint in the Economy Ministry, during which he served as Cabinet director under Macron, Kohler left to join MSC as finance director. However, he continued to work on Macron's presidential campaign on the side.
Close ties to Macron
In a statement on Monday, Macron's office dismissed the allegations against him, saying they were "completely unfounded."
"Mr. Kohler will provide all the documents needed to show that his behavior respected the rule of law at all times," the president's office said.
Kohler, who usually steers clear of the media spotlight, is known for having a close relationship with Macron as the Elysée Palace secretary general.
An aide told news agency AFP that Kohler is "the last person Macron talks to at night and the first one in the morning."
Macron appointed Kohler to the top position in the presidential palace in May 2017.
rs/ng (AFP, Reuters)