July 7 (UPI) -- French magistrates are investigating a lavish party in Las Vegas thrown to coincide with a visit by President Emmanuel Macron while he was serving as a government minister.
According to reports, the party cost upwards of $456,000 and was thrown by an advertising and marketing company employed on behalf of the French government bureau Business France, which promotes French startups.
The agency threw the party to coincide with Macron's visit to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. At the time, Macron was the French economy minister under former President Francois Hollande.
In France, government expenditures of more than $285,000 are supposed to be put to competitive bidding, though the ad agency Business France used to throw the party was not part of that process, prosecutors said. Agents raided the agency's headquarters as part of the inquiry.
The formal judicial inquiry deals an early blow to Macron's platform of reforming the free-wheeling French political and business culture. Macron's surprising political ascension was due in part to the implosion of a front-running candidate's campaign after it was revealed he was paying family members for no-show public jobs.
Further complicating matters for Macron, the leader of Business France at the time was Muriel Penicaud, the woman he has since tapped to serve as labor minister, leading delicate negotiations between business leaders and organized labor, aimed at loosening the country's tight laws regarding hiring and firing employees.