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French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said his 2017 campaign finances were checked and cleared by judges in his first public comments after financial prosecutors said they investigated his election campaign as part of a wider probe into consultancy firm McKinsey and its links to the president.

“There must be transparency,” Macron told journalists in response to questions about the investigation.

“My 2017 campaign accounts were going through all the procedures and submitted to judges who cleared them. Those of 2022 are currently being checked, like those of every other candidate”, Macron said.

France’s national financial prosecutor’s office on Thursday confirmed it had widened the scope of an existing probe into alleged tax fraud by consultancy group McKinsey to include the role of consultancy groups in the 2017 and 2022 election races.

It is the closest a judicial investigation has come to Macron, who swept to power promising to clean up politics in France.

Speaking in the central French town of Dijon, Macron on Friday also said that there have been many political attacks linked to the consultancy firm, but that judicial authorities must work in an orderly fashion.

Asked about suspicions of potential “favouritism” linked to consulting deals McKinsey won from the French government, Macron said that he as president does not directly deal with public offers.

“The core of the investigation is not about me,” he said.

An investigation does not necessarily lead to a prosecution or imply guilt. It can take years before such probes are either shelved or go to trial.

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