The leader of the French anti-mass migration Front National Marine Le Pen has been charged over an expenses scandal relating to the alleged misuse of European Union funds and pay for parliamentary assistants.
Ms. Le Pen faces an indictment of “breach of trust” as part of an ongoing investigation by French authorities into the paying of EU parliamentary assistants. Le Pen is one of 17 Front National MEPs who are being investigated along with 40 of their assistants, Le Monde reports.
The allegations originate with the European Parliament which alleges that Le Pen and other Front National MEPs spent £4 million on assistants since 2012 that were doing party work in France and not assisting MEPs in the European Parliament as the party claims.
Both the Front National and Ms. Le Pen have denied any wrongdoing and when allegations emerged during the second round of the presidential election dismissed them as being politically motivated.
Whilst the case originated with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the investigation was passed on to French authorities. Since then, French police have raided the Front National headquarters whilst Le Pen was visiting dignitaries in Lebanon.
At the time, the party released a statement saying: “This is obviously a media operation whose sole purpose is to attempt to disrupt the smooth running of the presidential election campaign and to try to harm Marine Le Pen at the very moment when her candidacy has made a major breakthrough in voting intentions, especially for the second round.”
In April, French investigators then requested the European Parliament lift Le Pen’s parliamentary immunity after she refused to attend an inquiry by investigators in the case on March 10th.
The request is not the first time Le Pen has had her immunity revoked. Earlier this year, the parliament voted to strip her of immunity after she had shared images of Islamic State barbarism, claiming she was disseminating violent imagery.
The tweets posted involved the beheading of American journalist James Foley who was killed by British jihadist Mohammad Emwazi, nicknamed “Jihadi John”.
Le Pen joins a list of other populist politicians who have been brought up on various criminal charges, most notably for “hate speech”. The most famous cases involve her European parliamentary group, Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), ally Geert Wilders who was found guilty of incitement late last year.