Paris prosecutors are learning a report by the European Union’s fraud company accusing French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and different members of her nationalist celebration of misusing public funds whereas serving within the European Parliament.
The report was disclosed by French investigative information web site Mediapart days earlier than Le Pen faces incumbent Emmanuel Macron in a runoff election Sunday that would decide Europe’s future route. Le Pen’s celebration National Rally seeks to decrease the EU’s powers.
Party lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut stated she denies wrongdoing, and questioned the timing of the Mediapart publication, simply earlier than the presidential runoff.
Macron, a pro-EU centrist, leads Le Pen in polls forward of Sunday’s vote, although the race is tighter than once they confronted off in 2017.
EU fraud company OLAF submitted its report final month to the Paris prosecutor’s workplace, which is “in the course of analyzing it,” the prosecutor’s workplace stated Monday. No formal investigation has but been opened, and no additional particulars have been launched.
According to Mediapart, the OLAF report discovered that Le Pen, her firebrand father and celebration founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and different celebration members who served within the European Parliament used 617,000 euros of public cash for “fictitious” causes, notably for the good thing about firms near the celebration. The fraud workplace is reportedly looking for reimbursement of the funds and potential fraud and embezzlement prices.
OLAF accused celebration members of “grave violations” and stated the “inappropriate behavior” of members of National Rally — previously known as the National Front — “imperiled the reputation of the Union’s institutions,” in accordance with Mediapart.
OLAF did not instantly reply to requests for remark Monday, a vacation in Belgium and a number of other European nations.
It’s not the primary time Le Pen and her celebration have been accused of misusing EU funds. Among a number of authorized affairs which have dogged her celebration, Le Pen was handed preliminary prices in 2018 primarily based on a separate investigation by OLAF accusing National Rally members of utilizing aides on the European Parliament’s payroll for the celebration’s political exercise.
Le Pen, who served within the European Parliament from 2004-2017, met with supporters Monday within the Normandy city of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge. She and Macron face an important debate on Wednesday.
Follow AP’s protection of the French election at https://apnews.com/hub/french-election-2022