LONDON — The deadline has now passed for Marine Le Pen to repay €298,000 (£257,0000) to the European Parliament (EP) and she now faces a €7,000 (£5,992) monthly pay cut.
The far-right leader has to repay a total of €340,000 (£291,000) that the EP says she misspent. The parliament had given Le Pen until midnight on Tuesday to repay most of the total sum, but she refused.
EU authorities believe that two of her EU parliamentary assistants were working for her National Front party back in France when they were supposed to be working for Le Pen at the European Parliament.
The EP could now withhold as much as half of her salary and allowances, meaning she could lose a total of around €7,000 a month, Reuters reports.
In December, Paris prosecutors launched a judicial investigation into the matter, examining a “breach of trust,” “concealment of breach of trust,” “organised fraud,” “forgery and use of forged documents,” and “concealed work.”
Le Pen has denied the allegations and refused to repay any of the money back. She told AFP: “In order to reimburse, I’d have had to have received the funds, but my name isn’t François Fillon.” This was a reference to a scandal surrounding French presidential nominee François Fillon and his wife Penelope, who is accused of having received nearly €1,000,000 for French parliamentary assistance work that she allegedly did not do.
“Moreover, I formally contest this unilateral and illegal decision,” Le Pen told AFP this week. In another statement texted to Reuters, Le Pen also said the demand was “a unilateral decision taken by political opponents…without proof and without waiting for a judgment from the court action I have started.”
The details of the Le Pen allegations
The EP is asking Le Pen to repay a total of more than €340,000. She was asked to repay almost €300,000 by 31 January, for salaries paid to Catherine Griset, who worked as a parliamentary assistant from December 2010 to February 2016, and another €41,554 by February 28 for salaries paid to her bodyguard.
The European Anti-Fraud Office said last year that Le Pen’s assistant’s contract stipulated that her workplace was at the EP’s headquarters in Brussels, and that she was unable to prove that “she continually resided in Belgium” nor that she was “regularly present at her place of work,” France24 reports.
Le Pen’s lawyer denounced the order of repayment as a “political manoeuvre” to “undercut Marine Le Pen’s work at the European Parliament,” and her treasurer, Wallerand de Saint-Just, called it a “detestable enterprise by the European Parliament.”
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