Friday

18th Oct 2019

French police raid Le Pen's party office

  • Le Pen has so far refused to pay back any money to the EU parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

Police in France raided the offices of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday (20 February) as part of a fraud investigation.

The leader of the far-right National Front is suspected of using fake EU parliament contracts to swindle the EU taxpayer out of some €340,000.

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

A statement issued by the party claims the investigation is a media smear campaign designed to derail her presidential ambitions.

"For the second time, a raid took place at the same offices, over the same allegations, which confirms that the first raid amounted to nothing," it said, referring to a previous raid last year.

People working under such contracts are required to be based at the EU institution in offices located either in Brussels, Strasbourg, or Luxembourg.

But according to investigators, the EU parliament money was paid to Le Pen's bodyguard Thierry Legier, who was earning over €7,200 net per month for part-time work over a three-month period.

A second contract paid almost six years of salary up until 2016 for Le Pen's personal assistant Catherine Griset, who worked out of the party's offices in Nanterre, near Paris.

Le Pen has refused to return the sums with the EU parliament now docking half of her MEP salary. It means Le Pen will still receive around €3,000 net a month.

The allegations are based on claims made by the EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf. French investigators had already raided the office in December after judges specialised in finance opened the case.

The investigation into Le Pen may reveal much broader abuse. The EU parliament in 2015 said 19 assistants attached to National Front MEPs worked out of Nanterre, but Olaf could not confirm that all were unduly paid.

In a separate case, three other National Front MEPs, including Le Pen's estranged father Jean-Marie, have also been ordered to return some €600,000 of misused funds to the EU parliament.

Le Pen is also vice-chair of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), a eurosceptic political faction at the European Parliament whose members include suspected fraudster Janice Atkinson.

Atkinson, a British MEP, was kicked out of Ukip in 2015 over allegations she inflated her expenses.

The latest probe is also likely to cast a further shadow in a presidential campaign already marred by scandals with centre-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon accused of handing fake government contracts to his wife and children.

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.

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

The centrist presidential candidate tells talented Britons to come to France and warns against giving the UK "undue advantages" after Brexit, in a speech in London.

Le Pen wants to 'do away' with EU

The far-right presidential candidate said that she would create a "Europe of free nations", while taking France out of Nato command and "tie up" Russia to Europe.

'Mr Putin steps into French elections'

Putin treated France's anti-EU firebrand, Le Pen, as if she had already won the elections. "I have my own viewpoint ... identical to Russia's", she said.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  2. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products
  3. G7: Libra should not operate until all risks addressed
  4. Kurds agree with US-Turkey ceasefire but not safe-zone
  5. US to host 2020 G7 summit at Trump golf club
  6. Turkey's pension fund buys stake in Finnish defence firm
  7. Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire, says US
  8. EU leaders endorse revised Brexit deal

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us