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Le Pen under formal probe in EU fund misuse case

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Paris: Leader of France’s far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen was placed under formal investigation over the alleged use of a European Parliament fund to pay her party’s staff.

“In accordance with her commitments made during the presidential campaign, Marine Le Pen complied with the judges’ summons,” news channel BFMV quoted her lawyer as saying on Friday.

On Monday, Le Pen is to appeal the investigating magistrates’ decision which “violates the principle of the separation of powers,” according to the defense lawyer, Xinhua news agency reported.

The European Parliament has accused Le Pen of paying party staff working in France with European Union (EU) funds worth 340,000 euros ($387,690), after she claimed they were European parliamentary assistants.

In December 2016, the French prosecutor opened an investigation for breach of trust, fraud and forgery following the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) initial findings.

Le Pen’s chief of staff Catherine Griset was put under formal investigation on February 22 after a day of questioning over the alleged misuse of EU funds to pay parliamentary assistants. Her bodyguard was also questioned but was later released without being placed under investigation.

Le Pen, who is gaining popularity in France that helped her to enter the National Assembly for the first time, dismissed any wrongdoing.

IANS

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