PARIS — A French investigation into a Las Vegas tech party is putting new pressure on President Emmanuel Macron’s labor minister — and possibly the president himself — as they pursue difficult reforms to French work rules.
The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a formal judicial inquiry Friday into suspected irregularities in the organization of a costly, high-profile event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show that Macron headlined when he was a French government minister.
The inquiry is for “favoritism,” but it doesn’t name a suspected perpetrator yet, leaving it to investigators to determine later who might be at fault.
The company that organized the “French Tech Night” event, advertising firm Havas, is suspected of having done so without undergoing open tender procedures, among other suspected problems.
It’s unclear whether Macron himself was aware and the investigation doesn’t target him directly. It is problematic, however, for his labor minister, Muriel Penicaud.
Penicaud directed an agency under the economy ministry — then headed by Macron — that reportedly signed off on the Havas contract.
Penicaud has acknowledged a “procedural error” in the process but says she then launched an internal and external audit and addressed the issue. The agency she headed, Business France, would not comment Friday on the judicial inquiry.
Havas argues that it was not required to compete for the contract because it signed an umbrella agreement
Article source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/french-prosecutors-investigate-macron-las-vegas-trip/2017/07/07/8b27e512-62fa-11e7-80a2-8c226031ac3f_story.html
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