EU seeks recovery of funds from French candidate Le Pen: Report

A European Union anti-fraud agency report alleges that Marine Le Pen misappropriated public money while she was a member of the European Parliament (MEP).

Leader of French National Rally party (RN) Marine Le Pen
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in 2019 [File: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images]

French prosecutors have said they are examining a report by the European Union’s anti-fraud agency that accuses far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and members of her party of misappropriating European Parliament funds.

On Sunday, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed it was studying a report it received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on March 11.

The report, according to French news platform Mediapart, alleges that Le Pen personally misappropriated about 137,000 euros ($148,000) of public money from the Strasbourg-based European 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 euros ($667,100) wrongfully paid. We will now proceed with recovery [of the money] from the interested parties in the coming weeks,” the source added.

Le Pen’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Denying charges

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

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

Le Pen was investigated previously over suspicions of employing fictional party assistants in the European Parliament.

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

“The French will not be fooled by attempts of the European Union and the European institutions … to interfere in the presidential campaign and harm Marine Le Pen,” National Rally President Jordan Bardella told Europe 1 radio.

Bardella said his party had filed two legal complaints against OLAF, and that it would be filing a third in response to the report.

Source: News Agencies