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French far-right leader charged with alleged EU funds misuse

French far-right leader charged with alleged EU funds misuse”

Le Pen has consistently denied the allegations against herself, saying that they were the work of her political opponents.

Le Pen is suspected of using parliamentary funds to pay Ms Griset from 2009 to 2016 and bodyguard Thierry Legier from 2014 to 2016 for working as aides in Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, even though they have clear roles in her far-right National Front party.

Le Pen is no longer a member of the European parliament but was elected earlier this month to the French parliament for the first time after winning a seat in the northern, former coal mining region of Pas-de-Calais.

The fake jobs scandal implicating Le Pen started with an expenses inquiry in which the European Parliament first accused her far-right National Front party of defrauding it to the tune of some Euro 340,000 (USD 360,000).

Earlier this year, in April, it was reported that the EU Parliament believed fake jobs involving Marine Le Pen's National Front party had cost the institution almost Euro 5 million (USD 5.5 million).

On Monday, Le Pen is to appeal the investigating magistrates' decision which "violates the principle of the separation of powers", according to the defense lawyer, Xinhua news agency reported.

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"It makes no sense", National Front vice president Florian Philippot, Le Pen's top lieutenant, said on the BFM-TV station. She will also seek a suspension of the investigation.

Her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut confirmed on Friday afternoon, with several National front politicians also under investigation. A conviction for breach of trust charge carries a potential penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros ($428,000). She had however promised to cooperate with the investigation after the May presidential and June parliamentary elections were over.

She is one of 17 of her party's lawmakers, including her father Jean-Marie Le Pen from whom she is estranged, under investigation over the alleged salary irregularities.

Macron himself is determined to avoid any possible connection to the lax or corrupt political practices of the past.

In March, French investigators raided the party's headquarters outside Paris in order to find out if the European Parliament funding for MEP assistance had been abused with fake jobs.



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