France's Le Pen put under formal investigation over EU funds

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was charged over claims her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European Parliament to pay for party's France-based staff.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Le Pen is one of 17 FN European lawmakers being investigated over salaries paid to around 40 parliamentary assistants.

Prosecutors placed French far-right leader Marine Le Pen under formal investigation on Friday as part of a probe into the alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

Le Pen, who is being investigated for breach of trust, had previously denied any wrongdoing in a case that she has said is politically motivated.

In a statement, her lawyer said she would launch an appeal against the investigation.

The case relates to an amount of about 5 million euros ($5.71 million).

TRT World spoke with Peter Humi for the latest on the investigation.

It was announced Le Pen had been placed under formal investigation after she appeared before judges on Friday. She had been summoned previously, but refused to go during her campaign bid for the French presidency.

The European Parliament believes the money went to National Front employees working for the party in France rather than those working for the party's lawmakers in Brussels.

The formal investigation comes less than two weeks after Le Pen won a seat in the French National Assembly. She is no longer a member of the European Parliament.

Le Pen also faces an investigation into the financing of past election campaigns and a probe into her tweeting of pictures of Daesh violence. 

The 48-year-old National Front leader, who made a failed run for president this year, invoked her immunity as a member of the European Parliament in refusing to answer questions from investigators during the campaign.

She had however promised to cooperate with the investigation after the May presidential and June parliamentary elections were over.

She is one of 17 FN European lawmakers, along with her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, from whom she is estranged, being investigated over salaries paid to around 40 parliamentary assistants.

The anti-EU nationalist beat the candidates of the traditional right and left to secure a spot in May's  presidential run-off against pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron.

But she was soundly beaten by Macron in the second round, by 66.1 to 33.9 percent.

In legislative elections held directly afterwards she won a seat in the northern former coalmining region of Pas-de-Calais.

TRTWorld and agencies