Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

Le Pen borrowed €9mn from Kremlin-linked bank

The far-right French party, Front National (FN), borrowed €9 million from a Russian bank, posing questions over its relationship with the Kremlin.

The loan, by the First Czech Russian Bank (FCRB), was granted in late September, according to a report out on Saturday (22 November) in Mediapart, an online investigative journal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It notes the FCRB is de facto owned by Roman Popov, a financier with close ties to the Russian political establishment.

Wallerand de Saint-Just, the FN’s treasurer, told Mediapart the loan was organised by Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, an FN euro-deputy.

“We’d been looking for a loan for a long time, notably to finance our election campaigns. Our bank, like many other French and European banks, categorically refused to lend a single centime to the FN or to FN candidates”, he said.

“So Mr Schaffhauser … who has had good relations in Russia for a long time, said: ‘Let me go and see this bank’.”

De Saint-Just denied the FCRB loan amounts to foreign interference in French politics, saying he has never met Popov and has only had contact with the bank’s “technical" staff.

Marine Le Pen, the FN chief and also an MEP, told French daily Le Monde that her party tried to get loans from Asian, Italian, Spanish, and US banks as well as from the Russian lender.

“The first one we managed to get, we signed, and we’re very happy … what’s scandalous is that French banks aren’t lending”, she said.

She dismissed as “ridiculous” the question whether the FCRB millions came with strings attached.

“That kind of insinuation is injurious and outlandish. Just because we got a loan, that’ll determine our international position? We’ve had the same [pro-Russian] line for a long time”, she said.

Le Pen has praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine and blamed the West for causing the crisis.

Her deputies vote against Russia-critical resolutions in the EU parliament.

Schaffhauser was also one of a handful of MEPs who went to monitor "elections" in the Russia-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk “republics” in east Ukraine on 2 November.

Aymeric Chauprade, Le Pen’s advisor on foreign policy, went to monitor the Crimea "referendum" on independence in March.

Le Monde reported earlier this year that Chauprade also met with Kremlin envoys in Vienna in May, along with other far-right European politicians, to discuss how to combat “European liberalism and homosexuality”.

The FN is currently polling ahead of both the centre-left and centre-right Socialist and UMP parties in France.

Meanwhile, Moscow's links to the far right are not limited to France.

Hungarian authorities have asked the EU parliament to lift the immunity of Bela Kovacs, an MEP from the far-right Jobbik party, after accusing him of taking money from Russian intelligence services.

Kovacs, who denies the allegations, like Chauprade monitored the Crimea "referendum".

Tatjana Zdanoka, a Latvian MEP from the pro-Russian Latvijas Krievu savieniba party, who also went to observe the Crimea poll, is under a similar investigation at home.

EU and UN reject 'farcical' east Ukraine votes

The EU, the UN, and Nato have rejected the outcome of “so-called elections” in east Ukraine, but Russia and a handful of fringe MEPs gave their stamp of approval.

Farage and Le Pen unite on Russia report

Britain’s Ukip and France’s National Front have teamed up with other anti-EU parties to vote against a Russia-critical resolution at the EU parliament.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission: efforts 'ongoing' over Italian migrant ship
  2. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  3. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  4. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  5. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  6. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  7. Swedish politician declares war on media
  8. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us