Alexis Kohler, remains in his post with President Emmanuel Macron after his indictment, we learned from the Elysée.
On September 23, the number two of the Elysée Palace was also placed under the more favorable status of assisted witness for influence peddling, and is not subject to any judicial control measure, the Prosecutor said in a press release. national financier Jean-François Bohnert, confirming information from France info.
The case arose after the publication in 2018 of several Mediapart articles on a possible conflict of interest between his positions in the civil service and his links with the Italian-Swiss shipowner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), founded and managed by his mother’s cousins, the Aponte family.
Based in Geneva, MSC – one of the largest container carriers in the world – is a major customer of the company STX France (now renamed Chantiers de l’Atlantique) which manages the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire.
Following the Mediapart articles, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) had opened a preliminary investigation, which it had closed without further action in August 2019, indicating that the analysis of the elements collected “did not (allow) to characterize the initially suspected offenses “.
But the anti-corruption association Anticor obtained the relaunch of the investigations in June 2020 thanks to a complaint with a civil action, which most of the time allows the appointment of an investigating judge.
– “Demonstrate his innocence” –
Alexis Kohler “forcefully denies having committed any offence”, reacted in a press release his lawyer, Me Eric Dezeuze.
“Without taking into consideration at this stage the many objective exculpatory elements, Alexis Kohler was placed under the status of indicted for illegal taking of interest for facts that may date back more than ten years”, explains Me Dezeuze , claiming that “the rest of the procedure, to which he now has access” would “allow him to demonstrate his innocence”.
During the preliminary investigation, a dozen people were heard by the Economic Crime Prevention Brigade (BRDE), including Alexis Kohler.
These investigations had given rise to the writing of two successive contradictory police reports, according to elements of the investigation of which AFP had been informed.
In a first – described as an intermediary by the PNF -, dated June 7, 2019 and covering 34 pages, an investigator writes for example that Mr. Kohler “does not take any measures to organize a formalized deportation”, namely not to intervene on issues related to MSC when he works for Minister Pierre Moscovici or that he “does not set up any deportation” when he is then director of cabinet of Emmanuel Macron.
The conclusions of the second report, shorter by 11 pages and dated July 18, 2019, are less severe: the same investigator details as well as the deportations of Alexis Kohler were indeed organized when he worked at Bercy.
Emmanuel Macron had himself taken up the pen via a “personal note” in July 2019 in favor of Mr. Kohler and sent to the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) by his lawyer, ensuring that his collaborator had never intervened, when he was his chief of staff at Bercy, in cases related to the Italian-Swiss shipowner MSC.
“Insofar as the highest official of the State is indicted for illegal taking of interests, the question which now arises is that of his resignation”, estimated with AFP the lawyer of Anticor Jean-Baptistes Soufron, evoking a “huge, serious and in-depth work” by the examining magistrates.
Alexis Kohler, the president’s right-hand man, to whom he has been faithful for eight years, is an extremely discreet man, keeping himself away from the media.
This 49-year-old senior civil servant has held the strategic position of secretary general of the Elysée since the start of the first five-year term. Installed in an office next to the president, he manages emergency situations, major economic and social issues, but also political ones on a daily basis.