Marine Le Pen charged over finance scandal

Posted July 02, 2017

Le Pen faces up to three years in prison and a hefty fine but it is believed to be unlikely that she would get a prison term if found guilty.

The National Front has denied the allegations.

French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen was placed under formal investigation on Friday as part of a probe into the alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

The allegations contend that Le Pen and the National Front used funds from the European Parliament, the EU's legislative body, to pay party staff members, according to Agence France-Presse.

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She had invoked parliamentary immunity as a member of the European Parliament during her presidential and parliamentary campaigns but had pledged to cooperate with the investigation once the campaigns were over.

The case was first triggered by a complaint about the National Front to the European Parliament.

Ms Le Pen, who until recently was a European representative herself, was charged with breach of trust over accusations that she put her chief of staff and her bodyguard on the EU payroll at various times between 2009 and 2016.

At the time, Le Pen was competing closely with ultimate victor Macron. She will also seek a suspension of the investigation.

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"There is nothing illegal", Florian Philippot, the party's vice president, said.

Her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut confirmed the charges, stating the former presidential candidate had been summoned by investigating magistrates in Paris and was placed under investigation.

Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, came a distant second during her bid for the French Presidency earlier this year, losing out to Emmanuel Macron. At the end of their work, they will have to decide whether to send the case to trial or dismiss it.

A total of 17 FN European lawmakers are being investigated over salaries paid to about 40 parliamentary assistants.

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