Confidant of France's Le Pen charged over loan

2017-02-26 06:11
Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right Front National party. (Alain Jocard, AFP)

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right Front National party. (Alain Jocard, AFP)

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Paris - A confidant of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been charged with making an illegal loan to her far-right National Front party, judicial sources say.

It is the second fraud case in recent weeks to be filed against someone close to Le Pen, one of the frontrunners in the rollercoaster French presidential campaign.

In this case Frederic Chatillon, who heads a company called Riwal that did communications work for party candidates, is accused of loaning money to FN satellite group Jeanne.

Breach of trust

A source close to the case said the loan was illegal because it was made directly from Riwal and companies are forbidden from contributing to political parties in France.

As part of a probe into the party's financing for local and European elections in 2014 and 2015, Chatillon was charged on February 15 with misappropriating his company's assets.

News of the case comes days after Le Pen's personal assistant Catherine Griset was charged on Wednesday with breach of trust in the probe into allegations the National Front defrauded the European Parliament of about €340 000.

Le Pen, who sits in the European Parliament, has furiously denied accusations she broke the rules by using parliamentary funds to pay Griset as well as bodyguard Thierry Legier for jobs in France rather than at the European Parliament.

First round

Le Pen, who has vowed to call a referendum on France's membership of the European Union if elected, has described the investigation as a vendetta.

She is not the only presidential candidate facing accusations over "fake jobs". Her conservative rival Francois Fillon is fighting claims he paid his wife more than €700 000 for parliamentary work that she might not have carried out.

Polls currently show Le Pen will finish with most votes in the first round of the presidential election on April 23 but would be beaten by either Fillon or centrist Emmanuel Macron in the runoff.

Read more on:    marie le pen  |  france

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