EU anti-fraud body accuses Le Pen of embezzlement as elections loom
Published: Apr 17, 2022 06:09 PM
Marine le Pen Photo: VCG

Marine le Pen Photo: VCG

The EU's anti-fraud body has accused French far-right leader Marine le Pen and associates of embezzling around 600,000 euros during their time as MEPs, French website Mediapart said Saturday, quoting a new report.

The allegations come just over a week before Le Pen goes head-to-head with incumbent Emmanuel Macron in the second round of presidential elections.

Her lawyer dismissed the accusations, raising suspicions over the "timing" of the report.

Mediapart published extracts from the new report by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) into expenses that political groups can make as part of their mandate as MEPs.

The agency accuses Le Pen and others of having used the funds for national political purposes, personal expenses or for services that would benefit commercial companies close to her National Rally party and the far-right parliamentary group, Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF).

The report points the finger at Le Pen and three other former members of the European parliament including her father, Jean-Marie le Pen, her ex-partner Louis Aliot and former far-right MEP Bruno Gollnisch.

The body accuses the four of having embezzled around 600,000 euros ($650,000).

According to the report, Le Pen personally embezzled around 137,000 euros worth of public money from the Strasbourg parliament when she was an MEP between 2004 and 2017.

"I'm surprised by the timing of such a strong disclosure" and the "instrumentalization," Le Pen's lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, told AFP.

Bosselut said he was "dismayed by the way that OLAF is acting," insisting that some of the report related to "old facts more than ten years old."

The investigation by OLAF was opened in 2016, Bosselut said, and Le Pen was questioned in writing by post in March 2021. The Paris public prosecutor's office confirmed to AFP that it had received the report on March 11, which it was currently assessing.