EU Parliament to recover funds from French election candidate Le Pen

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party candidate for the French presidential election Marine Le Pen holds a campaign rally in Avignon, France, 14 April 2022. [EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO]

The European Parliament said Sunday (17 April) it will try to recover money owed by Marine Le Pen over fraud allegations as the far-right leader prepares to face President Emmanuel Macron in France’s unpredictably close election run-off.

French news platform Mediapart revealed that a report by the EU’s anti-fraud body OLAF accused Le Pen and three other former MEPs – including her father Jean-Marie – of misusing European Parliament funds.

The report also alleged that Le Pen personally misappropriated around €137,000 of public money from the Strasbourg-based parliament during her time as an MEP between 2004 and 2017.

A source said the European Parliament had referred the case to OLAF after uncovering some of the alleged irregularities.

“In total, we’re talking about €617,000 wrongfully paid. We will now proceed with recovery (of the money) from the interested parties in the coming weeks,” the source added.

OLAF’s investigation has been open since 2016 and Le Pen was questioned by post in March 2021, her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut told AFP.

Le Pen has faced another investigation since 2017 over suspicions of employing fictional party assistants in the European Parliament.

The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed on Sunday that it was studying the OLAF report it received on March 11.

Speaking to BFM TV, Le Pen’s lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut said his client denied the charges. He said she had yet to be questioned and neither he nor Le Pen had seen the OLAF report.

The impending action against the National Rally leader comes as polls give her a strong chance of beating Macron in the second round of France’s presidential election on April 24.

EU anti-fraud body accuses Marine Le Pen of embezzlement

The EU’s anti-fraud body has accused French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and associates of embezzling around €600,000 during their time as MEPs, French website Mediapart said Saturday (16 April), quoting a new report.

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