French far-right leader Marine Le Pen accused of misusing public funds

French Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Accused Of Misusing Public Funds French Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Accused Of Misusing Public Funds
Marine Le Pen, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Angela Charlton, Associated Press

Paris prosecutors are studying a report by the European Union’s fraud agency accusing French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and other members of her nationalist party of misusing public funds while serving in the European Parliament.

The report was disclosed by French investigative news site, Mediapart, days before Le Pen faces incumbent Emmanuel Macron in a run-off election on Sunday that could determine Europe’s future direction.

Le Pen’s party National Rally seeks to diminish the EU’s powers.

Le Pen denied wrongdoing, dismissing the report as “foul play by the European Union a few days before the second round” of the election. Speaking on Monday on a campaign stop in Normandy, she said, “I am well accustomed to this, and I think the French will absolutely not fall for it.”


Macron, a pro-EU centrist, leads Le Pen in the polls ahead of Sunday’s vote, though the race is tighter than when they faced off in 2017.

The EU fraud agency (Olaf) submitted its report last month to the Paris prosecutor’s office, which is “in the course of analysing it,” the prosecutor’s office said on Monday. No formal investigation has yet been opened, and no further details were released.

According to Mediapart, the Olaf report found that Le Pen, her firebrand father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and other party members who served in the European Parliament used 617,000 euros (£510,000) of public money for “fictitious” reasons, notably for the benefit of companies close to the party.

The fraud office is reportedly seeking reimbursement of the funds and potential fraud and embezzlement charges.

Olaf accused party members of “grave violations” and said the “inappropriate behaviour” of members of National Rally, formerly called the National Front, “imperiled the reputation of the Union’s institutions,” according to Mediapart.

Olaf did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

It is not the first time Le Pen and her party were accused of misusing EU funds. Among several legal affairs that have dogged her party, Le Pen was handed preliminary charges in 2018 based on a separate investigation by Olaf accusing National Rally members of using aides on the European Parliament’s payroll for the party’s political activity.

Le Pen, who served in the European Parliament from 2004-2017, met with supporters on Monday in the Normandy town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge. She and Macron face a crucial debate on Wednesday.

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