The European Parliament – which has begun the process of lifting immunity for Marine Le Pen, the French Presidential candidate and MEP – has confirmed that the total amount of fraud she is accused of amounts to US$5.5 million in EU expenses for none-EU party work carried out in France.
Le Pen — who has stood down as leader of the Front National party to boost her appeal ahead of the second rod against Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche party — is accused for using her MEP expenses to pay for party officials actually working for the Front National.
The allegations — which Le Pen denies — have led to called for her to be charged with fraud, but the total amount of money alleged has only just been revealed to news agency AFP, based on information from Patrick Maisonneuve, a lawyer for the parliament.
The fact that the MEPs have chosen to leak the amount as it begins to process of lifting her immunity has brought charges of interfering with domestic French elections. It already comes on the back of two EU chiefs giving their open backing to Macron.
In response to Le Pen and Macron winning through to the final round, May 7, the Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini both gave their backing to Emmanuel Macron, in a breach of diplomatic protocol.
In March, Le Pen invoked her MEP’s immunity in refusing to submit to questioning by investigating magistrates. Her chief of staff Catherine Griset and another party official have been charged with concealment, according to AFP.
The European Parliament has now begun the process of lifting Le Pen’s immunity, but it is unlikely Le Pen will face questioning before the second round of the French Presidential election.
“[The request] has been forwarded to the legal affairs committee of the European parliament, which is in charge of these issues,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told MEPs at the beginning of a formal sitting of the legislature in Brussels, April 26.