The Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office has entrusted to investigating judges from the financial department, investigations into suspicious wages incorrectly paid to MEP assistants from the French National Front. The Agence France Presse (AFP) has learned this today (Thursday) from a judicial source.
The source stated the judicial enquiry was opened on December 15th for breach of trust and possessing stolen goods, conspiracy to defraud, forgery and undeclared work.
This follows an investigation led since March 2015 by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, referred by the European Parliament.
At this time, suspicions revolved around the circumstances in which 20 National Front assistants were employed and paid in the European Parliament, as their names also appeared in the most recent organisational structure chart for the FN.
These dual entries lead one to assume that individuals may have undertaken other roles, other than simply in their European parliament capacity, whilst being paid from European funds.
The President of the European Parliament, the Socialist Martin Schulz summarised clearly “You cannot be paid by the European Parliament and work for a political party.” He was responding to accusations from France’s FN leader, Marine Le Pen, who had accused him of “extensive political manipulation”.
In August 2016, the EU budget anti-fraud organisation (OLAF) requested the European Parliament to recover 339,946 euros from Marine Le Pen herself.
This amount corresponds to the salaries paid to her two parliamentary assistants. Marine Le Pen’s lawyer said that she would be launching an appeal.
The European Parliament has also demanded 320,000 euros, from Jean-Marie Le Pen who also holds elected positions in Brussels and Strasbourg. As part of the Public Prosecutor’s investigation, police from the Police Anti-corruption and Financial Crime Office searched the FN’s offices in February 2016.
Separately, the FN has already been referred for trial, together with two of its executives, in the case around financing its legislative election campaign in 2012. This trial is still pending.