Emmanuel Macron’s top presidential adviser and justice minister have suffered legal setbacks over alleged of conflict of interests and abuse of position, casting doubt over whether they can be maintained in office.
Judges on Monday ruled justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti should be tried by a special tribunal over allegations he abused his position to retaliate against judges against whom he held grudges from his career as a defence attorney.
A few hours later, the financial crimes prosecutor’s office said they had placed secretary-general Alexis Kohler, the highest ranking presidential adviser, under official investigation — one step short of an indictment. Prosecutors are looking into allegations Kohler favoured the interests of Mediterranean Shipping Company, the Swiss-Italian maritime shipping group controlled by his cousins, the Aponte family.
Dupond-Moretti and Kohler have denied wrongdoing via their lawyers. Spokespeople for the Élysée Palace and the prime minister’s office did not return requests for comment, but Agence France-Presse cited Élysée sources saying Kohler would be staying on in his job.
The setbacks are particularly ill timed for Macron because they come as he faces stiff opposition in parliament, which could derail his second-term agenda now that he no longer has a majority to push through laws.
“This is a big problem for Macron who as a candidate in 2017 vowed to run a government that would be above all reproach,” said Bruno Cautrès, a political scientist at Sciences Po, adding the president had once promised that any minister who was under official investigation would have to step down.
“French people already see the political world with mistrust, and this will only make things worse,” Cautrès said.
Dupond-Moretti, who rose to fame for defending rogue Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is the first sitting justice minister to face such a trial. It will be heard…
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