The European Parliament has called on French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen to pay back 320,000 euros, media say. It believes a parliamentary assistant received the money under false pretenses.
The European Parliament is calling on MEP Le Pen, the 88-year-old founder of France's far-right National Front (FN) party, to reimburse money it says was "unduly" paid to him for a parliamentary assistant whose work had never been proven, French media say.
In a document cited by AFP news agency on Thursday, the secretary-general of the assembly, Klaus Welle, said that Le Pen had offered "neither an explanation for, nor any evidence of parliamentary assistance work" carried out by the member of staff between 2009 and 2014.
The document put the sum to be repaid at 320,026.23 euros ($362,812).
The European Parliament has already begun withholding half of Le Pen's own wages in what seems to be an attempt to recover the money, according to the French magazine "Challenges." It said he was now receiving 3,100 euros per month instead of the usual 6,200 euros, and that the entire 4,300 euros allowed for monthly expenses and half of his daily allowance had also been withdrawn.
In March 2015, the Paris public prosecutor's office opened an inquiry into wages paid to some 20 assistants to the FN amid suspicions that they were actually working elsewhere while receiving money from the parliament. The investigation was first launched by the EU fraud squad.
Le Pen, who founded the far-right, Euroskeptic FN in 1972, was removed from his position as leader last year by his daughter Marine after he repeated remarks claiming that the Nazi gas chambers were "a detail" in the history of World War II.
Le Pen has in the past received a number of fines for comments that downplayed the impact of the Holocaust or were racist in nature.
Holocaust denial is strictly forbidden under French law.