Toronto - For the second time in a year, French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party headquarters were raided by police.
Toronto – For the second time in a year, French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party headquarters were raided by police.
The European Parliament (EP) is alleging that Le Pen used EU funds to pay two of her staffers approximately 340,000 euros. Le Pen has vigorously denied the allegations, insisting they are simply a smear campaign intended to pollute her presidential run.
The alleged breach is reported to have occurred in 2011-2012, after Le Pen was made leader of the FN. According to a report in the Guardian, the EP is charging Le Pen with paying her bodyguard 41,500 euros out of EU funds. They are also looking for Le Pen to repay approximately 298,000 euros paid to her France-based assistant from 2010-2016. To be considered a European Parliament employee, you must be working in one of their 3 official offices located in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg, and reside close by.
The Guardian also reported that the European anti-fraud office has ordered Le Pen to repay the 340,000 euros but Le Pen has refused, citing a political campaign by the media and her election opponents. The National Front party is accusing investigators of playing politics performing the raid so close to the upcoming election. In an official statement on the matter, FN call the raids an attempt “to disturb the smooth running of the presidential campaign and to sink Marine Le Pen the moment her campaign is making strides with voting intentions.”
According to the same source, three other FN members are also being asked to repay allegedly misused used funds. Included in the three is Le Pen’s father and founder of the FN, Jean Marie Le Pen. He has been ordered to repay approximately 600,000 misspent euros.
As for Le Pen, her European Parliament wage is being halved, the other half being directly withdrawn to pay back the funds. It is estimated that Le Pen is losing about 7,000 euros per month because of the garnishment.
In an election poll by Opinionway, Le Pen is on track to beat all four of her rivals in the next phase of the elections. In the next round, however, she is expected to lose either to conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, or the left-wing’s, Emmanuel Macron.