A source close to the case revealed yesterday (Wednesday) that Marine Le Pen is taking proceedings with the European Court of Justice. She has done so with a view to overturning the recovery by the European Parliament of the sums linked to the dubious employment of a parliamentary assistant.
The source has gone further. These proceedings with the ECJ to reverse the decision of the Court of Justice (ECJ) on February 10th by the National Front (Far Right) presidential election candidate are accompanied by an application for interim steps. These request the urgent suspension of this decision.
The European Parliament is relying upon an investigation by OLAF, the EU anti-fraud organisation. It considers that the salary paid to Catherine Griset, hired as a parliamentary assistant for Ms Le Pen, in her MEP capacity, between 2010 and 2016, was not justified. Griset may in fact have worked solely for the National Front in France.
The European Parliament is demanding €298,400 from the MEP. Ms Le Pen has refused to repay this amount to date. As a consequence, the parliament took the decision to take part of her MEP salary from February.
In addition to Mrs Griset being charged and indicted by the French justice system in this case, there are further amounts thought to be owing. The amounts claimed to pay Le Pen’s bodyguard Thierry Légier, as a parliamentary assistant, are also subject to a recovery procedure which is thought to have started prior to this case. The amount sought is more than €41,500.
Three other FN MEPs, including Jean-Marie Le Pen and Bruno Gollnisch, have been also subject to salary deductions for similar incidents. These MEPs also taken proceedings against the ECJ to similarly suspend enforcement to recover these amounts. Their particular request was dismissed on February 16th by the ECJ, which noted the “lack of urgency”.
The source close to the case therefore considered that the interim steps application by Marine Le Pen, based upon the same arguments, has “every chance of being dismissed.”
The substance of the proceedings to overturn the parliament’s decision will only be considered over a period of several months. It will be some time before we know the outcome.
In France, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office, to which the European Parliament has referred the case, has made known to investigating judges its suspicions. These focus upon non-existent jobs for FN assistants.