Investigators have reopened a conflict of interest probe into President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, over his links to Swiss-Italian shipping giant MSC, sources told AFP Wednesday.
An initial criminal investigation by the economic crimes prosecutor's office was dropped in August last year, prompting Anticor, an independent anti-corruption body, to file a civil complaint in December.
On Monday, investigating magistrates agreed to take up the Anticor complaint, sources said, confirming a report by investigative website Mediapart.
As a senior civil servant in the economy ministry before Macron's election in 2017, Kohler is alleged to have worked closely on matters involving the shipyard STX France, where MSC was a major client.
MSC was founded by billionaire cousins of Kohler's mother, and Kohler himself joined the company as finance director in 2016 while continuing to work as an advisor on Macron's presidential campaign.
Two years ago, police raided France's economy ministry as part of investigations into Kohler, who was Macron's cabinet director when the president was economy minister between 2014 and 2016.
The presidency has dismissed allegations of wrongdoing against Kohler.
Macron affirmed in a note last year that he had known of Kohler's family ties when he, then economy minister, tapped Kohler to head his cabinet in 2014, adding that Kohler was not involved in MSC-related decisions after coming aboard.
Leftist opponents often accuse Macron, a former investment banker, of being too close to business leaders.
The allegations against Kohler add to a list of legal investigations into Macron's allies -- including Richard Ferrand, who stepped down as housing minister because of a probe into a property deal, but is now the speaker of parliament.
Kohler had also been questioned in a probe into a scandal involving Macron's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, and a Senate commission of inquiry said it suspected Kohler withheld information in that case.