Thursday

21st Nov 2019

French judges open case on Le Pen's alleged EU fraud

  • The investigation over the parliament assistants comes after another investigation was opened last year about the funding of Le Pen's campaigns in France. (Photo: European Parliament)

French authorities have opened an investigation into the far-right National Front (FN) party over an alleged fraudulent use of assistants in the European Parliament.


The investigation was opened on 15 December by judges in Paris who specialise in financial cases, but reported by French media and later confirmed on Thursday (5 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group


It covers charges of embezzlement, organised fraud, forgery, and undeclared work, following a preliminary investigation that was opened in March 2015 at the request of European Parliament president Martin Schulz.

The parliament had found that 20 people registered as assistants to the 24 National Front MEPs and paid for by the parliament were in fact working for the party at its headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris.

Their names were on the party organisation chart in France, but four of them were listed as "accredited" EU parliament assistants and should have been working in Brussels and Strasbourg. The 16 others were registered as local assistants who were meant to be working in the MEPs’ constituencies.

Recovering money

After discovering the discrepancy, the EU parliament informed the EU anti-fraud office, Olaf, of possible financial irregularities.

Schulz also wrote to the French justice minister to say that he was ready to hand documents to French judges.

"According to the National Front's own organisation chart, certain assistants do not work for the members with whom they have concluded their labour contracts," the parliament said in statement at the time.


Following the Olaf investigation, the European Parliament has so far asked three FN MEPs to pay back salaries unduly paid. In September 2016, for instance, the party's leader Marine Le Pen was asked to repay €339,946 to cover the salaries of two of her assistants.

The money is still to be recovered by the parliament, while Olaf continues its investigation into the other MEPs' assistants.

In June 2015, Le Pen created her own group in the parliament, Europe of Nations and Freedom, with other far-right parties, such as the Netherland's PVV and Austria's FPOe.

On Thursday, Le Pen said that the investigation, coming ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in France this year, was "a caricature".

"The old political methods of persecuting opponents refuse to die," she told the AFP press agency.

Funding problems

The investigation over the parliament assistants comes after another investigation was opened last year about the funding of Le Pen's campaigns for local elections in 2011 and for legislative elections in 2012. It was recently extended to also cover her earlier presidential bid in 2012.

Judges are looking at how a structure within the National Front overpriced services such as printing leaflets to fund the leader's campaigns

Le Pen is leading in a majority of opinion polls ahead of the presidential election in April and May, although a victory in the run-off is still considered unlikely.

She is struggling to fund her campaign and her party's campaign for the legislative elections in June.

The FN admitted last week that Le Pen's father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen would lend €6 million even if he was excluded in 2015 after a political and personal fallout with his daughter.

A few days earlier, the party's treasurer had denied reports that he was trying to contract a €28 million loan from banks in Russia.


In 2014, another bank, the First Czech-Russian Bank lent €9 million to the FN, but it emerged earlier this week that Russia had started legal proceeding to recover the money.

National Front in EU fraud allegation

The National Front is facing allegations of fraud for having the EU parliament pay salaries to MEP assistants who perform tasks unrelated to the assembly.

Marine Le Pen spotted at Trump Tower

Marine Le Pen reportedly did not meet with anyone from the Donald Trump team following her unannounced appearance at the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

News in Brief

  1. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  2. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  3. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  4. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  5. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  6. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  7. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'
  8. Luxembourg: EU ought to recognise Palestine

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  2. New EU financial instruments needed
  3. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  4. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  5. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  6. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  7. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  8. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us