June 28, 2022

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EU anti-fraud body accuses Marine Le Pen of embezzlement | France

The European Union’s anti-fraud body has accused Marine Le Pen and several members of her party – including her father – of embezzling around 620,000 euros while serving as members of the European Parliament.

French investigative website Mediapart He published a section of the new report of 116 reports alleging that MEPs misused EU funds for national partisan purposes.

The allegations come a week before the second round of the presidential election, on April 24, in which Le Pen will compete with Emmanuel Macron.

A spokesman for the far-right National Rally (National Rally) party led by Le Pen questioned the timing of the accusations. Le Pen’s lawyer, Rodolphe Posselot, told AFP he was “appalled by the way Olaf had said it.” [the European anti-fraud office] acting.” He insisted that some of the reports related to “outdated facts over 10 years old.”

“Marine Le Pen competed in this. She is challenging it without being able to see the details of the accusation. It’s manipulation. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised,” Posselot told France’s BFMTV.

According to Mediapart, Olaf sent the report to French investigators in March. Le Pen was accused of diverting approximately €137,000 in EU funds personally during her tenure as a member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2017. Louis Elliott, her former partner and former vice president of RN, who is now Mayor of Perpignan; And Bruno Gollnisch, another heavyweight party, was also cited in the report as misusing public money. All denied any wrongdoing.

In one incident reported by Mediapart, Marine Le Pen is said to have submitted a claim in 2010 for 5,000 euros for hotel rooms for 13 members of the far-right party to participate in a conference entitled European regions and the financial crisis. However, one of the participants allegedly wrote to the European Parliament and claimed that the meeting was intended to discuss the leadership of the party. The unnamed participant told investigators that Le Pen hung a European flag in the way to take pictures, then ordered his colleagues to “get rid of that shit.”

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the file was “under examination”.

None of those named in the report were accused of personal profit, but of claiming EU funds to pay for the RN – formerly the National Front (FN) – and events instead. Le Pen said she was not aware of any wrongdoing.

Le Pen has been under investigation since 2018 over allegations of “breach of trust” and “misuse of public funds” over the alleged use of EU funds for European parliamentary aides to fund salaries of party staff. That same year, an EU court ruled that the bloc could recover more than 41,000 euros in public funds that Le Pen used to pay her bodyguard, a former paratrooper who has protected her father for 20 years.

Bossilot said Le Pen “has not been summoned by any French judicial authority” and accused European authorities of failing to send him or Le Pen the final report.

He said Olaf’s investigation was opened in 2016 and he questioned Le Pen in writing in March 2021.

The latest poll published by Ipsos for FranceInfo and Le Parisien suggests Macron could win the runoff next week by 10 percentage points.

Both candidates They are trying to win over supporters of the radical left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who narrowly failed to qualify for the second round. On Sunday, Melenchon published the result of his 310,000 paid supporters’ consultation on how 7.7 million people voted for him last week next Sunday. Of the more than 215,000 who took part, nearly 38% said they would cast their white ballot, while 33.4% said they would vote for Macron and less than 29% said they would abstain.

“The result of this consultation is not an instruction to anyone. It refers to the opinions of 215,292 people who participated. Everyone will conclude and vote according to their conscience,” The Melenchon campaign team said in a statement.

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