French prosecutors launch investigation into Le Pen’s campaign finances

Prosecutor’s office says it will look into allegations of embezzlement, forgery and fraud – and accusations that a candidate on a campaign accepted a loan.

Le Pen
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen gets ready before an interview with journalists after partial results in the second round of the recent French parliamentary elections in Paris, France [File: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

French investigators are looking into far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s 2022 campaign finances for an election she lost to President Emmanuel Macron, prosecutors said.

The investigation, which was opened on July 2, follows a 2023 report by the National Commission on Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP), which scrutinises candidates’ election expenses and funding, the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

It said it will look into allegations of embezzlement, forgery, fraud – plus accusations that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan.

As the head of the far-right National Rally (RN) party until 2021, Marine Le Pen ran against Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, and could again run in 2027.

In 2022, she had invested around 11.5 million euros ($12.4m) in her third bid for the presidency, the second time she faced Macron in the run-off and lost to him.

In December 2022, the CNCCFP had objected to expenses linked to putting up and taking down campaigning material on 12 buses, describing it as “irregular”.

Last month, France’s top court also upheld a conviction against the RN for overcharging the state for the campaigning kits used by its candidates during the 2012 parliamentary polls.

Le Pen and her party have previously denied wrongdoing in connection with campaign financing. The RN party has not commented on the current investigation.

Separately, Le Pen is to stand trial later this year alongside 27 others over alleged misuse of European Union funds, charges that Le Pen’s party has said it contested.

That investigation, opened in 2016, aimed to ascertain whether the then-National Front party had used money destined for EU parliamentary assistants to pay staff who were working for the party.

Source: News Agencies