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Far-right French leader Marine Le Pen charged in European Union funding scandal

Far-right French leader Marine Le Pen charged in European Union funding scandal”

Former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been placed under formal investigation over alleged misuse of European parliamentary funds.

The parliament suspects some €5m (£4m; $5.4m) went to assistants of Ms Le Pen's National Front (FN) who were not working for MEPs but were actually engaged in FN party work in France. Griset was charged for allegedly receiving money through a breach of trust.

On March 10, Le Pen refused to answer their questions citing her immunity from prosecution as a Member of the European Parliament, leading the French prosecutors to ask the EU Parliament to lift her immunity, which it did.

The National Front faces accusations that it had staff members, who did political work unrelated to the European Union, falsely sign up as aides on the European Parliament's payroll.

Le Pen ran her presidential campaign under an aggressively xenophobic, White Nationalist Platform which included aggressive anti-Immigrant policies. Bosselut added that Le Pen would launch an appeal against the investigation.

The charges filed against Ms Le Pen, who is not accused of trying to enrich herself personally, are preliminary and mean only that the judges working on the case have suspicions that are strong enough to formally place her under investigation.

The 48 year old head of the National Front is being investigated for breach of trust and has denied any wrongdoing. Her estranged father and FN party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen is 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).

"It makes no sense", National Front vice president Florian Philippot, Le Pen's top lieutenant, said on the BFM-TV station.

The formal investigation of Le Pen comes less than two weeks after she won a seat in the French National Assembly.



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