Orban-tied bank identified as Le Pen campaign lender

During the 2014 municipal elections, Le Pen’s party resorted to Russia’s First Czech-Russian Bank to finance its campaign to the tune of €9 million. A few years later, the bank shut down. [EPA-EFE/MARCIN OBARA POLAND OUT]

Asset declarations of  French presidential candidates published on Wednesday revealed MKB loaned far-right contender Marine Le Pen €10.6 million for 16 months to finance her campaign Telex reported via Hvg.hu.

MKB is partially owned by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s childhood friend and ally, billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros.

News reports at the beginning of February suggested the candidate for Rassemblement National continued her record of seeking questionable funding with the Hungarian loan.

During the 2014 municipal elections, Le Pen’s party resorted to Russia’s First Czech-Russian Bank to finance its campaign to the tune of €9 million. A few years later, the bank shut down.

Back then, the news sparked concerns that Le Pen, who said she is an admirer of President Vladimir Putin, promised a softer line on Russia over Ukraine, urging the West to drop economic sanctions on Moscow.

The sum of €10.6 million is a significant boost to Le Pen, who had been forced into a low-key election campaign because of the party’s limited finances and the reluctance of French banks to lend her money.

Le Pen has good relations with Orban. In October, he received the French politician at his office, where they discussed a possible European alliance between Fidesz, which has left the European People’s Party, and the Rassemblement National.

In early December, they held talks in Warsaw with the Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, the Spanish VOX and nationalist politicians from other countries. Still, they did not announce a new European Parliament group as anticipated.

MKB will become part of the emerging gigabank, Magyar Bankholding, at the end of March. The holding company will have a leading market position in several areas and operates 925 branches nationwide.

In response to Telex’s request for comments, Magyar Bankholding said it “does not wish to comment on the information contained in Marine Le Pen’s asset declaration”.

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