Sunday

23rd Apr 2017

Mediapart: National Front's Kremlin loan is worth €40mn

  • Le Pen: 'Mediapart has lost its head. The amounts it talks about are a total fantasy' (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The far-right French party, the National Front, is in talks with a Kremlin-linked bank to borrow €40 million to win power in France, Mediapart reports.

The Paris-based online investigative journal last weekend said Marine Le Pen’s party received a €9 million loan from the First Czech Russian Bank (FCRB), which is de facto owned by Roman Popov, a Kremlin-connected oligarch.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But it says in a second report on Wednesday (26 November) the €9 million is the tip of the iceberg.

It notes that its own investigation is corroborated by a member of the Front National’s political bureau.

“The first tranche was paid on a loan of €40 million … the tranche of €9 million has arrived, 31 others will follow,” the source said.

It also cites Bernard Monot, a National Front MEP, who told Mediapart: “We expressed, for sure, a need for comprehensive financing in our discussions with the bank … Our potential need until the [French] presidential and legislative elections [due in 2017] is €45 million”.

“We’re getting there step by step. We’re refining it as we go … We are on a long-term financial package”.

Wallerand de Saint-Just, the National Front's treasurer, said he knows nothing about the larger sum.

But he noted the party needs between €35 million and €40 million to contest the 2017 votes.

He added he cannot exclude that larger sums were mentioned by Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a National Front MEP who negotiated the FRCB deal, in Schaffhauser's contacts with the bank.

Meanwhile, Le Pen herself tweeted on Wednesday evening: “Mediapart has lost its head. The amounts it talks about are a total fantasy. FN got a €9mn loan. Full stop”.

She told AFP the €40 million report is “fantastic, delirious”.

EU blacklist

Mediapart goes on to say that Le Pen personally sealed the FRCB loan on a “secret” trip to Russia in February.

It quotes an unnamed Le Pen aide as saying: “Marine Le Pen came at the final stage [of the negotiations]. Yes. To see where we are putting our feet”.

It notes that Schaffhauser, who was present at the meeting, introduced her to Alexander Babakov, a Russian MP, who was the “key” to the FRCB deal.

The EU blacklisted Babakov in September because he voted Yes on a Russian bill on the annexation of Crimea.

The 51-year old, who was born in Moldova, has business interests in the Czech Republic, France, and Ukraine.

According to documents published by Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, the Russian MP owns at least €11 million of real estate in France via his wife, Irina Babakova.

According to Czech media, he was also the co-founder of a Czech-based shell company, Albion CZ, which was liquidated in June.

Conflict of interest?

Schaffhauser told Mediapart he met Babakov 10 years ago through the Russian Orthodox Church.

“I knew he was wealthy. But I’m not interested in his fortune. He’s someone with whom I share the same vision”, the MEP said.

Babakov’s declaration of financial interests in the Russian Duma is much smaller than the Navalny documents indicate.

Schaffhauser’s declaration in the European Parliament notes that he works as an “international consultant”.

It doesn't mention that FRCB paid him a €140,000 fee for his work as a go-between.

He told other French media the bank paid him in September via an entity in Luxembourg, which he declined to identify.

He told Mediapart: “If there is a conflict of interest, it’s for the European Parliament to decide.”

“I don’t see any conflict of interest just because I continued my professional activities. It’s normal that I use my professional skills. I was a consultant. Do you think I would abandon my clients from one day to the next?”.

Tip of the iceberg II

The National Front revelations come amid multiplying reports of Kremlin ties to anti-EU far-right parties.

German tabloid Bild on Monday cited German intelligence sources as saying Russia is financing the eurosceptic AfD party.

It said the Kremlin used middlemen to sell gold to AfD at below-market prices without AfD’s knowledge of who was behind the transactions.

The left-wing SPO party in Austria has also accused the far-right FPO of receiving Russian money.

AfD and FPO denied the claims. But their Kremlin links were on display this week in meetings in Berlin and Moscow.

A top AfD member went to a friends-of-Russia congress at a Berlin hotel organised by Vladimir Yakunin, a US-blacklsited Kremlin confidante.

Top FPO members went to a seminar in Moscow chaired by Russian FM Sergei Lavrov on the “the crisis of confidence in Europe”.

In Hungary and Latvia, authorities are investigating accusations that two pro-Russia parties - Jobbik and Latvijas Krievu savieniba - received Kremlin money.

The National Front, the FPO, and Bulgaria’s far-right Ataka party also went to a pro-Russia congress in Vienna in May.

The FPO, the National Front, Latvijas Krievu savieniba, and Ataka sent MEP “monitors” to lend legitimacy to separatist votes in Russia-occupied Crimea and Donetsk in Ukraine.

The Italian and Belgian rightist parties Forza Italia, Lega Nord, and Vlaams Belang, as well as two anti-EU far-left parties - Germany’s Die Linke and Greece’s KKE - also sent observers.

Feature

Invitations sent out for next EU-Russia 'summit'

Putin is persona non grata in EU capitals. But he is likely to meet leaders in the margins of WWII memorials in January, amid questions on the suitability of his attendance.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Investigation

Sex and lies: Russia's EU news

France and Germany have been targeted for years with fake news and lies designed to incite sexual revulsion toward migrants and the politicians who gave them shelter.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote
  2. Le Pen-Putin friendship goes back a long way
  3. Mogherini should tell Russians their rights matter
  4. Le Pens Freunde aus dem Trump Tower
  5. Sexe et mensonges: l'information russe sur l'UE
  6. Report: Post-Brexit payments, ECJ jurisdiction could last years
  7. Oxford study raises alarm on 'junk' news in France
  8. Thousands to march in defence of science

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Free AllianceAutonomia to Normalnosc - Poland Urged to Re-Grant Autonomy to Silesia
  2. UNICEFHitting Rock Bottom - How 2016 Became the Worst Year for #ChildrenofSyria
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  5. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  6. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  7. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  8. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  10. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  11. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy