French far-right leader charged with alleged EU funds misuse

Casey Affleck arrives at the 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs Calif. An annual international film festival in the western Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary is
France's Marine Le Pen charged over funding scandal
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02 July, 2017

Le Pen is no longer a member of the European parliament but was elected earlier this month to the French parliament for the first time after winning a seat in the northern, former coal mining region of Pas-de-Calais.

French far-right leader and former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been charged in connection with a probe into whether her National Front party misused funds at the European Parliament.

The prosecutor's office said Le Pen was handed preliminary charges of breach of trust and complicity in breach of trust concerning two of her aides when she served at the European Parliament.

On Monday, Le Pen is to appeal the investigating magistrates' decision which "violates the principle of the separation of powers", according to the defense lawyer, Xinhua news agency reported. Griset was charged in February for allegedly receiving money through a breach of trust.

Le Pen has denied any wrongdoing and denied the allegations which she called political "persecution" against her.

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Sixteen other National Front representatives in the European Parliament have been under investigation by the French authorities since 2015.

The Parliament believes it may have been defrauded to the tune of some €340,000 ($300,000), with payments used to hire staff for party work in France, rather than to assist MEPs in the European Parliament.

A total of 17 FN European lawmakers are being investigated over salaries paid to about 40 parliamentary assistants. Her estranged father and FN party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen is also under investigation. She will also seek a suspension of the investigation.

It was announced Le Pen had been placed under formal investigation after she appeared before judges on Friday.

If tried and convicted, Le Pen faces up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to Euro 375,000 (USD 425,000), although it is unlikely she would receive a custodial sentence.


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