Leaked emails from French presidential frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, suggest the politician has used Caribbean shell companies to evade taxes. Some documents hint he or a close friend may also be a bitcoin user — some of the emails detail several bitcoin transactions to purchase stimulants on the web.
Macron is a former investment banker and leader of the “En Marche” party, who is favored to beat National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the May 7 election. Although the leak may come too late to influence polling, where Macron has a 13% lead, it will certainly be a controversy he must face regardless of the result.
Macron Has a Few Questions to Answer
The 9 gigabyte leak of private documents first surfaced on 4Chan and users were quick to point out that it seemed like Macron has been using a complex arrangement of shell companies to avoid paying taxes in France.
Taxation has been a controversial topic in France in recent years. Former Socialist French president Francois Hollande infamously announced a “millionaires’ tax” during his 2012 election campaign. The short-lived plan aimed to tax anyone earning over €1 million at a rate of 75%. It was later reduced to 50%, however many wealthy French rescinded their citizenship and fled to neighboring countries — like Gerard Depardieu, who became a Russian citizen.
During Hollande’s presidency, Macron held a senior role as deputy secretary-general of the Élysée, before becoming Minister of the Economy in 2014. According to the unverified screenshots, in 2012 he signed an operational agreement with a Nevis-based company.
The Caribbean is a known tax haven and suggests Macron may have used the company to avoid paying taxes in France while holding a senior position within the government. This prompted Kim Dotcom to tweet:
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 5, 2017
Someone in Macron’s Circle Thinks Bitcoin Is Useful
Surprisingly, there is another revelation that has arisen from the email dump. It seems someone the presidential candidate’s circle is also a cryptocurrency user, and has used bitcoin to purchase a stimulant known as 3MMM (methylmethcathinone).
The product is related to 4 Methyl-Ephedrone, a synthetic stimulant possessing similar chemical qualities to the East African Khat plant. 4MM often goes by the street name Meow Meow or Drone, while 3MMM is restricted in countries such as the UK. The buckled.eu website selling the product states it is not fit for human consumption.
An unverified email in the leak shows a purchase order for 10g of Crystal 3MMM — paid in bitcoin and delivered to another politician, Alain Tourret, a known Macron supporter.
At present, though, there’s nothing tying that specific order to Macron himself.
The other side in the election is definitely no bitcoin fan. Macron’s opponent, Marine Le Pen, has pledged to “prevent the use of bitcoin in France”, seeing it as part of a globalist plot against traditional payment methods, like cash.
Is 4Chan Joking… Again?
As the leak broke many wondered if it was simply another practical joke from 4Chan, a site that has already successfully trolled major news sites into running fake news stories. A link to the files said: “Alleged multi-GB team Macron email archives. Could be a 4chan practical joke. We are examining.”
However Macron’s campaign has since admitted that it has been the victim of a “massive, coordinated hacking operation”. Subsequently, French authorities have blocked the 4Chan website, with many French users reporting an inability to access the site without a VPN.
The seriousness of the leaks will ensure the issue of tax evasion remains high on the media’s agenda, and that Macron faces a baptism of fire in the coming days, even if he defeats Le Pen.
Is Macron a Bitcoiner? And even if not, will this leak damage his campaign? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Wikimedia Commons