FRENCH POLITICS

'Fake jobs' scandal comes back to haunt France's Marine Le Pen

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen rubbished police reports that her National Rally party set up an “organised system of fraud” to misappropriate European funds for its own benefit.
France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen rubbished police reports that her National Rally party set up an “organised system of fraud” to misappropriate European funds for its own benefit. AFP - LIONEL BONAVENTURE

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has hit back at media reports that a police investigation found her National Rally (RN) party had set up an “organised system of fraud” to misappropriate European funds for its own benefit.

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The reports – linked to claims her aides had fake work contracts as EU parliamentary assistants – were published in the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) weekly, which said it had been given access to the results of an investigation by French anti-corruption police.

The party and its leaders were suspected of having set up a “deliberate and concerted system of misappropriation” of EU salaries that were paid to RN party members, the JDD wrote.

Le Pen, a candidate for the 2022 presidential elections, was quick to hit back – telling French channel BFMTV: “This is the same old case of parliamentary assistants that comes out at each election.”

She later described the JDD as the “official organ of Macronist power”, in reference to President Emmanuel Macron, who defeated her in elections in 2017.

The alleged fraud uncovered by police from the Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Offences concerned about 25 elected officials and assistants, including senior party officials, the JDD wrote.

It began when the party, then known as the National Front, was led by Jean-Marie Le Pen – before reaching its “full scope” under the leadership of his daughter.  

In 2018, an EU court ruled the bloc could recover 41,000 euros of public funds that Le Pen used to pay her bodyguard who was on a three-month part-time contract as a parliamentary assistant in 2011.

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