European court rules Marine Le Pen must repay €300,000 in misspent funds | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.06.2018
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European court rules Marine Le Pen must repay €300,000 in misspent funds

The EU funds Le Pen has been ordered to repay relate to money she claimed for a parliamentary secretary. The court said Le Pen "has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her."

The European Union's General Court on Tuesday upheld a European Parliament decision to recover almost €300,000 ($347,000) from French far-right politician Marine Le Pen for misspent EU funds.

Following an investigation by the EU's Anti-Fraud Office, the European Parliament complained that Le Pen, who was a member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2017, had unduly claimed €298,497.87 for a parliamentary assistant.

Le Pen is the leader of France's far-right National Rally party, until recently known as the National Front.

Read more: Can Marine Le Pen's Front National make a comeback?

A statement from the General Court said it "confirms the decision of the European Parliament" to recover the money from Marine Le Pen on the grounds she "has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her."

Read more: Le Pen's 'outsider' politics move to center stage in France

Le Pen to appeal verdict

Le Pen told French news agency AFP that she would take the case to the Court of Justice, the EU's highest court.

"This ruling is based not on the substance of the case but on a procedural aspect. We are going to appeal against this decision," she told AFP.

Le Pen is not the first politician to face allegations of misusing EU funds. In 2017, eight MEPs from Britain's far-right UKIP party were accused of misusing funds.

In January 2018, Nigel Farage was docked half of his pay for 10 months after auditors found he misspent EU money when an assistant who was engaged to work with the MEP was found to have also been working with the anti-EU UKIP party as national nominating officer, with his salary coming from the EU funds.

In June 2017, then French Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard resigned from government after a preliminary investigation was launched into claims her Democratic Movement party had misused EU funds.

law/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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