Reports claiming that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron may have engaged in tax evasion are spreading online this week, with a number of fringe news sites printing what is purported to be evidence of a tax haven in the Caribbean island of Nevis.
Macron is engaged in a fierce battle with Marine Le Pen in the French presidential race, with polling indicating that the two are neck and neck with French voters. But new reports have the potential to throw a wrench into the race, with claims that Macron operated a Limited Liability Company in Nevis that had a relationship with a bank known to take part in tax evasion schemes.
As the conspiracy theorist site Zero Hedge noted, a document circulated online that claimed to show evidence of a company called La Providence LLC that was established under the 1995 Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance. Another showed a letter to the company from First Caribbean International Bank, which was identified in 2013 as a facilitator of tax evasion.
“In April, Macron denied that he was hiding offshore accounts or inheritances from French authorities, even as his opponent Francois Fillion became mired in similar allegations,” the report noted.
“If confirmed as authentic, the documents would prove these claims to be untrue and provide important clues as to where the hidden funds might be located.”
Though the report would be a bombshell if true, there are plenty of doubts about the veracity. For one, the documents originally showed up on the /pol/ page on 4chan, a site where anonymous users have been known to perpetrate a number of hoaxes that have then gone viral. And the collection of sites reporting on the alleged Emmanuel Macron tax evasion scheme have a sordid history as well.
So far, the story has only been picked up among the fringes of conspiracy theory and right-wing media sites, like Disobedient Media which posted the story alongside conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.
Zero Hedge, in particular, gained a reputation during the 2016 presidential campaign of pushing conspiracy theories with no basis in fact and often appeared to be created out of thin air. As the Washington Post noted, Zero Hedge was identified by the group PropOrNot as one of dozens that likely spread Russian propaganda aimed at hurting Clinton’s campaign.
“PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
And the report of Emmanuel Macron’s alleged tax evasion scheme comes as fears mount that Russia may be trying to meddle in the French election as the country did in the United States last year. Richard Burr, head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, warned last month that Russia was certainly trying to interfere to hurt Macron’s chances of winning.
“Burr’s warning came to fruition this week with the revelation that campaign staff for Emmanuel Macron, the favorite to become France’s next president, had been targeted by suspected Russian-linked hacker,” CNN reported.
“The news did not come as a surprise to the Macron camp, or to experts who say Russia may be working behind the scenes to swing the result in favor of his opponent Marine Le Pen.”
If the allegations of tax evasion are true — or even if they are able to gain more of a foothold with voters — it could be detrimental to Emmanuel Macron. The presidential candidate has ran into difficulty connecting with his base of left-leaning voters, the Independent noted, which could be a major liability when voters go to the polls on Sunday.
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