MSC case: Alexis Kohler charged with illegal interest collection

MSC case: Alexis Kohler charged with illegal interest collection

The secretary-general of the Elysée, Alexis Kohler, was charged in Paris in September with illegal vesting as part of the judicial inquiry aimed at his family and professional ties to the shipowner MSC, the right arm of ‘Emmanuel Macron denies having “committed any crime” .

Alexis Kohler remains in his post with President Emmanuel Macron after his indictment, we learned from the Elysee.

On September 23, the number two of the Elysée Palace had also been placed under the more favorable status of assisted witness for influence trading and was not subject to any judicial control measure, said the prosecutor in a press release, the national financier Jean-François Bohnert , confirming information from France info.

The case arose after the publication of several Mediapart articles in 2018 about a possible conflict of interest between his public service positions and his ties to the Italian-Swiss shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), founded and run by his mother’s cousins Aponte’s family.

MSC – one of the largest container carriers in the world – based in Geneva, is a major customer of the company STX France (now renamed Chantiers de l’Atlantique), which manages the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire.

According to Mediapart’s articles, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) had launched a preliminary investigation, which it closed in August 2019, saying that the analysis of the items collected “could not characterize (permit) the crimes initially suspected”.

But in June 2020, the anti-corruption association Anticor, thanks to a lawsuit with a civil action, managed to get the investigations resumed, which usually made it possible to appoint an investigating judge.

– “Prove his innocence” –

Alexis Kohler “strongly denies having committed any crime,” his attorney Me Eric Dezeuze said in a press release.

“Without considering at this stage the numerous objective exculpatory elements, Alexis Kohler has been charged with illegal expression of interest for facts that may have gone back more than ten years,” explains Me Dezeuze, claiming that “the remainder of the proceedings to which he is now access” would “enable him to prove his innocence”.

During the preliminary investigation, a dozen people from the Economic Crime Prevention Brigade (BRDE), including Alexis Kohler, were heard.

That investigation had prompted the production of two consecutive conflicting police reports, according to elements of the investigation briefed to AFP.

For example, in a first one – described by the PNF as a middleman – dated June 7, 2019, an investigator writes on 34 pages that Mr. Kohler “takes no action to organize a formalized deportation”, namely not to intervene MSC-related problems if he works for Minister Pierre Moscovici, or that he “does not initiate a deportation” when he is then head of Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet.

The conclusions of the second report, 11 pages shorter and dated July 18, 2019, are less rigorous: the same investigative details as well as the deportations of Alexis Kohler were actually organized while he was working in Bercy.

Emmanuel Macron himself took the pen over a “personal note” in favor of Mr Kohler in July 2019, sent to the National Treasury Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) by his lawyer, to ensure his staffer never intervened when he was his chief of staff in Bercy , in cases related to the Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC.

“Insofar as the highest official of the state has been charged with illegal interests, the question of his resignation now arises,” Anticor’s lawyer Jean-Baptistes Soufron told AFP, citing “major, serious and in-depth work” by the investigating magistrates.

Alexis Kohler, the president’s right-hand man to whom he has been loyal for eight years, is an extremely discreet man who stays aloof from the media.

The 49-year-old senior official has held the strategic position of Secretary-General of the Elysée since the beginning of his first five-year term. Stationed in an office next to the President, he masters emergency situations, important economic and social, but also political issues on a daily basis.

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Reference: www.challenges.fr

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