Le Pen accused of embezzling EU funds ahead of second round of French elections

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French prosecutors are examining a report by the European Union’s anti-fraud agency accusing far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and other members of her party of embezzling public funds while in office. European Parliament.

The investigation was revealed by French news site Mediapart on Saturday and comes less than a week before Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, faces incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off election on Sunday.

OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, delivered the 116-page report to the Paris prosecutor’s office last month, according to Mediapart. The prosecutor’s office said it was “analyzing it” on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

According to Mediapart, the report revealed that Le Pen embezzled €137,000 ($148,000) of public money. In total, he claimed she and other party members, including her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, misused €617,000 ($667,000) while she was in the European Parliament. from 2004 to 2017.

None of them are accused of making a direct profit, but of claiming EU funds for staff and event costs.

Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (C) meets members of the public during a campaign visit in Saint-Pierre-en-Auge, northwestern France, April 18, 2022.
Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP via Getty Images

The fraud office would seek to recover the funds and potential charges of fraud and embezzlement.

OLAF accused party members of “serious violations” and said the “inappropriate behavior” of members of the National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, “endangered the reputation of the institutions of the Union,” Mediapart reported.

On Monday, Le Pen called the accusations “dirty tricks” and questioned the timing of the report.

“The dirty tricks of the European Union a few days before the second round”, she said. Told journalists. “I’m very used to this and the French are absolutely not fooled.”

Le Pen’s lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, also denied the charges and suggested the timing was suspicious. He said Newsweek that neither he nor Le Pen had seen the OLAF report.

The charges come on top of previous accusations that Le Pen misappropriated EU funds to pay parliamentary aides.

Le Pen’s National Rally seeks to diminish the powers of the EU, while Macron is a pro-EU centrist.

Macron leads Le Pen in opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s second round of voting and is also favored by bookmakers, although the race has narrowed in recent weeks.

The president also came out on top in the first round of voting on April 10, with 27.8% of the vote, followed by Le Pen with 23.1%. The couple will take part in a live televised debate on Wednesday evening.

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