France reopens Macron's interest investigation into Chief of Staff Kohler

Researchers have begun a re-investigation of the president-Emmanuel Macron chief of staff Alexis Kohler in connection with the Swiss-Italian shipping giant MSC, sources told AFP on Wednesday.

The preliminary criminal investigation of the Economic Offenses Prosecutor's Office was dismissed last August, prompting the campaign group Anticor to file a civil complaint.

On Monday, magistrates agreed to file a complaint with Anticor, and the investigation website confirms a report from MedPart.

As a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Finance prior to Macron's election in 2017, Kohler is accused of working on matters relating to MSC's main customer, Shipyard STX France.

MSC was founded by Kohler's mother's billionaire cousins, and in 2016 Kohler joined the company as finance director, serving as an adviser to the Macron presidential campaign.

Two years ago, between 2014 and 2016, Kohler, who was Macron's chief of staff in the ministry, attacked the finance ministry.

The President denied that his colleague had done anything wrong.

Macron last year confirmed that he was aware of Kohler's family ties when he was appointed in 2014 and said Kohler was not involved in decisions related to the MSC.

At the end of Wednesday, the president described the Anticor complaint as an "automatic outcome" to re-enter the investigation, saying the judges would consider the case with "complete independence."

Left-wing rivals accuse Macron of being a former investment banker and too close to business leaders.

The charges against Kohler add to the list of legal investigations against Macron's associates - including Richard Ferrand, who retired from housing because of an investigation into the property deal but is now a speaker of parliament.

Kohler was also questioned in the investigation into the scandal involving former bodyguard Alexander Benalla of Macron, and the Senate Inquiry Commission suspected that Kohler had withdrawn information from the case.

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