Claims leveled at Marine Le Pen by the EU’s anti-fraud body have surfaced a week before the French presidential election runoff
Accusations of embezzlement have been leveled at France’s National Rally party leader, Marine Le Pen, and several of her close associates just a week before the 53-year-old politician crosses swords with incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election on April 24.
On Saturday, independent French online investigative outlet Mediapart published part of a 116-page report penned by the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which claims that Le Pen, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, her former partner, Louis Aliot, and another big cheese in the party, Bruno Gollnisch, misused nearly €620,000 of EU funds during their time as members of the European Parliament.
The report shows that the National Rally, formerly the National Front, leadership did not take money to enrich herself, but diverted it for party purpose. Mediapart highlighted instances where Le Pen was accused of embezzlement. She claimed that she used EU money to fund hotel rooms for more than 12 National Rally members attending conferences.
OLAF reportedly forwarded its findings to the French authorities in March, with the Paris public prosecutor’s office confirming that the materials were “being examined.”
Marine Le Pen as well as the other names in the report denied wrongdoing.
Speaking to French media, Le Pen’s lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, expressed dismay at the “Olaf’s actions” insisting that some of the events mentioned in the document were “Old facts that are more than 10 Years old.” Bosselut also noted that Le Pen herself has not been given the opportunity to become acquainted with the final report, adding that the probe was launched in 2016. He concluded that the allegations are a “manipulation.”
The timing of these claims was questioned by a spokesperson from the National Rally Party. They were made just a week before Macron and Le Pen face off in the runoff for the presidency election, April 24, 2019.
Only Macron and Le Pen, who received 27.85% of the votes respectively, made it through the second round. Le Pen’s third attempt at the presidency.
Along with the National Rally’s traditional focus on the issue of immigration, Le Pen has also been critical of the current French leadership over rising inflation in the country.
With the rematch just days away, both candidates are busy trying to win over supporters of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who narrowly failed to make it to the second round.