National Front in EU fraud allegation
The French far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, the National Front, is facing allegations of fraud for having the European Parliament pay salaries to MEP assistants who perform tasks unrelated to the assembly.
Parliament president Martin Schulz alerted the EU’s anti-fraud office, Olaf, on Monday (9 March).
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He has also written to French justice minister Christiane Taubira about the affair. A parliament source told this website some €7.5 million may have been spent inappropriately - a figure also cited by the AFP and Le Monde.
But Le Pen in a tweet denied the allegation and said she would file a complaint.
The party’s vice-president Florian Philippot in a tweet also said "basically, Schultz [sic] is right... our assistants do not work for the European Union but against it”.
MEPs are banned from paying assistant salaries from the European Parliament coffers if their work has no link to the euro-deputy’s parliamentary mandate.
The parliament was alerted to the possible irregularities because of the national party's organigramme, which lists 20 assistants.
Nineteen had given the address of the Front National headquarters in Nanterre instead of the local address of their MEP’s constituent offices.
“According to the National Front's own organigramme certain assistants do not work for the member with whom they have concluded their labour contract,” noted the parliament in a statement issued late Monday evening.
Olaf is expected to launch an investigation. The anti-fraud office will then pass on its findings to French prosecutors who could eventually launch criminal proceedings.
The National Front has 24 members of the European Parliament, including Marine Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Many were elected on an anti-immigration and anti-EU ticket, with the party topping the polls in the EU elections in France last May.
The party members do not belong to any political group in the EU assembly.