Friday

22nd Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  2. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  3. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  5. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  6. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  9. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  10. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  11. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  12. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies