Monday

22nd Apr 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.

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.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us