French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Friday vehemently denied having ever admitted to anti-fraud investigators that she misused EU funds to pay her bodyguard, saying she is the target of outright lies.
“It’s a shameless lie, I have never admitted such a thing to investigators,” the National Front leader told French radio France Bleu Besançon.
The comments come after French investigative news site Mediapart and weekly Marianne on Thursday published extracts of a report by the European anti-fraud body (OLAF) which claimed that Le Pen had admitted to falsely employing at least one of her staff as an EU parliamentary assistant.
According to the extracts of the report, Le Pen had defended the move, claiming the parliament owed her and her party money from unpaid salaries and expenses.
But according to Le Pen, this conversation with investigators never took place.
“I never even saw the sight of them [the investigators],” she said.
The persistent scandal, which erupted when the report was handed to French judges last year, is a needle in the eye for the 48-year-old whose bid for the French presidency had been picking up steam after it was revealed last month that her main rival, conservative presidential nominee François Fillon, paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros by employing her as his assistant in the French parliament – a job the weekly Le Canard Enchainé claims she did not actually do.