The Paris prosecutor is looking into allegations that far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen and several of her party members misused hundreds of thousands of euro in European Union funds between 2004 and 2017 when she was a member of the European Parliament.
Just a week before Ms Le Pen stands in the final round of the French presidential election, the prosecutor’s office said it received a report detailing alleged abuse of funds from the European anti-fraud office Olaf on March 11th and is reviewing it.
Ms Le Pen's lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, denied any wrongdoing in an interview with BFM TV. A spokesman for Ms Le Pen was not immediately able to comment. French investigative outlet Mediapart first reported the existence of the Olaf report on Saturday. Ms Le Pen is set to face president Emmanuel Macron in the election runoff on April 24th.
According to Mediapart, several political expenses claimed by Ms Le Pen and others in her party were “fictitious”. They include promotional gear for a conference in 2014, payments to various contractors and organisations, personal wine purchases and funding for other party events unrelated to parliamentary responsibilities.
Ms Le Pen would personally be liable for about €137,000 and her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, for roughly €303,000, according to Mediapart. The total amount of alleged fraud is more than €617,000.
A spokesperson for Olaf said the agency finalised its investigation in September 2021 with recommendations and sent its final report to the European Parliament and to French and Belgian judicial authorities. The investigation involved several persons, both natural persons and economic operators. The spokesperson added that “final case reports are not made public by Olaf”.
Polls point to a victory for Mr Macron in the final runoff ballot, and the gap between him and Ms Le Pen has widened over the past week, according to a compilation of surveys. But it is still likely to be a much tighter race than in the 2017 election, when Mr Macron defeated her by more than 30 percentage points. – Bloomberg