French far-right leader Marine Le Pen charged over EU parliament scandal: Lawyer

Le Pen (above) has been charged over claims her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European Parliament.
Le Pen (above) has been charged over claims her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European Parliament.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was charged on Friday (June 30) over claims her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European Parliament to pay for France-based staff, her lawyer told AFP.

Rodolphe Bosselut said Le Pen had been summoned by investigating magistrates in Paris and that they had, “as expected, charged her”, adding that she would appeal.

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.

Investigators suspect the FN used money from Brussels earmarked for parliamentary assistants to pay staff to work for the party in France.

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.

She has denied any wrongdoing.

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 per cent.

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