Catherine Griset, Marine Le Pen’s chief of staff, has been placed under formal investigation over allegations that the Le Pen campaign misused EU money, France24 reports.
Marine Le Pen’s chief of staff and top bodyguard were both taken into custody Wednesday for questioning, in the wake of allegations that the French presidential candidate improperly funneled European Union campaign cash to staffers. Le Pen’s National Front party headquarters was raided by police on Monday.
Theirty Legier, in charge of Le Pen’s security detail, and chief of staff Griset, have been accused by the European Parliament of receiving improper payment, an allegation Le Pen’s lawyers denounced as a “manipulation” designed to throw the candidate off track.
The Le Pen aides are accused of being involved in a scheme in which they were incorrectly listed as employees of the European Parliament, specifically as parliamentary assistants.
A slew of polls have Le Pen as the winner of France’s first round of presidential elections, while predictions for her fate in the second round of voting have been less optimistic.
Le Pen is adamant that voters will see the allegations as false, according to her lawyer. “The French can tell the difference between genuine scandals and political dirty-tricks,” Le Pen told local media. She has previously denied the charges.
The leader of the National Front party stirred controversy recently after she declined to wear a veil during a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Geberan Bassil, which was custom for other leaders visiting the country. “I will not cover myself up,” Le Pen said. The pro-France candidate has detested “uncontrolled immigration” in front of crowds of thousands of people. Le Pen’s main campaign talking points include warding off the threat of the “two totalitarianisms” threatening France, economic globalization and Islamic fundamentalism. One of her proposed policies would reduce migration flows by 80 percent. Like US President Donald Trump, Le Pen has alleged that increasing number of French jobs have gone to immigration workers instead of French workers first. “There are too many foreigners where I live,” said Pierre Chardin, a 71-year-old living in France, according to an article in the Financial Times.