Paris – The Head of French President Emmanuel Macron’s parliamentary group, Richard Ferrand, has been interviewed by police investigating a 2011 property deal, authorities said on Friday.
Brest prosecutor, Eric Mathais, said that Ferrand, Head of Macron’s Centrist La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move, LREM) in the National Assembly, had been interviewed the previous day.
In June, Mathais opened a preliminary investigation into the 2011 deal, in which a health insurance association headed by Ferrand rented a property from his partner.
Ferrand has repeatedly defended his actions, saying that the deal with his partner was the best of three offers presented to the Mutuelles de Bretagne insurance fund.
Ferrand, a close ally of Macron, was appointed minister for territorial cohesion in the first government formed after the latter’s election on May 7.
However, he was not reappointed in the reshuffle that followed the June 19 parliamentary elections, and instead ran successfully for the presidency of the LREM majority in the National Assembly.
Some French media saw that as a way of getting him out of the government while the investigation was continuing.
Ferrand himself said that it was a “sign of the confidence” between him and the president.
With many of the 309 LREM political novices, Macron needs a steady and experienced hand to steer his legislative programme through the assembly.
The centrist president, who came to power on a platform of political renewal, lost another three ministers in the reshuffle.
This came amid allegations that their minority centrist party, the Democratic Movement, had paid staffers with funds intended for European Parliament assistants.
Among them was Justice Minister and Democratic Movement Chief, Francois Bayrou, who was in charge of a keynote proposal to tighten legislation on political ethics.
The party has said that all its staff were legally employed, and that some of them were in fact, working part-time for the party and part-time for its MPs.