EU to claim 340,000 euros from French far right leader

The EU Parliament will ask French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to reimburse it nearly 340,000 euros paid to two of her aides as they allegedly carried out party business, sources told AFP on Monday.

The anti-EU Le Pen is suspected of illegally paying wages to two parliamentary assistants who were working on matters not pertaining to her role as a European lawmaker, an official from the parliament and another source told AFP.

The 339,900-euro ($373,000) demand was first reported by the French magazine Marianne and website Mediapart.

“The parliament knows it must begin to recover the sum in question from Marine Le Pen,” the parliamentary source, who asked to remain anonymous, said to AFP.

Another source said that Le Pen, who is a major candidate for the French presidency next year, had missed a four-week deadline given on September 30 to provide feedback on the case.

A lawyer for Le Pen, Marcel Ceccaldi, told AFP his client will refuse to cooperate without first receiving the full report on the matter from the EU’s European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

“How can you possibly separate the activities of a MEP and the president of a major political party,” Ceccaldi said.

“European debates and questions on French society, such as migration and Europe’s visa-free Schengen policy, are intimately linked,” he said.

Florian Philippot, a top advisor to Le Pen, told French news channel BFMTV that the bloc was harsh on those who questioned it.