French President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, was indicted on Monday by France's financial crimes prosecutor. The indictment relates to Kohler's alleged conflict of interest over his ties to Swiss-Italian shipping company MSC.
The move against Kohler, who holds the powerful post of Elysee Palace secretary-general, came just hours after Macron's Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, was ordered to stand trial in a separate case, also over a conflict of interest.
Under French law, Kohler's indictment means he is under an official investigation based on evidence of wrongdoing held by the prosecutor, but not that he's been charged with a crime yet.
Prosecutors were reacting to a complaint that was filed against Kohler by anti-graft group Anticor. The complaint alleges that Kohler did not properly disclose that MSC is owned by his mother's cousins.
The complaint also details how Kohler had dealings with MSC while he was working for the French state holdings agency between 2012 and 2014 and later as a senior official in Macron's team at the finance ministry in 2014-2016.
Former board member
When Macron stepped down as economy minister in 2016, Kohler also left the government and briefly moved to Geneva to serve on MSC's board. In 2017, Kohler returned to the civil service at the Elysee Palace when Macron won the presidency.
MSC, whose business largely revolves around cruise ships, is one of the main clients of French shipyard Chantiers de l'Atlantique. The shipyard is co-owned by private investors and the French government following a 2016 bankruptcy.
Macron's office said later on Monday that it would not be relieving Kohler of his post, and added that the president's chief of staff had properly disclosed his family links to MSC as well as his employment there.
Kohler has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
es/sms (AFP, Reuters)