French National Assembly head questioned in corruption inquiry

Richard Ferrand, the president of the French National Assembly, was questioned by investigating magistrates on Wednesday over allegations of corruption linked to a property deal between 1998 and 2012, local media reported.

Ferrand, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s close allies, appeared before investigative judges in the northern city of Lille as part of a probe into charges of “improper acquisition of interest,” the news channel BFMTV reported.

According to the report, Ferrand may face formal investigations.

Ferrand has been under pressure over claims of suspected financial deals in relation with a rental accord with a company owned by his partner while he managed a medical insurance group in western France in 1998-2012.

Public prosecutors had launched an inquiry into the charges that forced Ferrand to quit his post as minister for territorial cohesion in June 2017.

Previously a Socialist, Ferrand was the first politician who quit the political mainstream to support Macron’s bid before becoming the head of his presidential campaign. He has been serving as president of the National Assembly since September 2018.

Asked about the investigation into Ferrand, government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye declined to comment, citing the separation of powers.

“Richard Ferrand is questioned by judges; we’ll see what will come from it,” she told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.