Marine Le Pen charged over finance scandal

France’s far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen has been placed under formal investigation over alleged misuse of funds.

Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, came a distant second during her bid for the French Presidency earlier this year, losing out to Emmanuel Macron.

But the politician, who is both a Member of the European Parliament and a Member of the National Assembly, was this week placed under investigation by magistrates over a funding scandal.

Marine Le Pen

The breach of trust charges are related to a wider probe into the alleged misuse of European Union funds by the far-right party.

The Parliament believes it may have been defrauded to the tune of some €340,000 ($300,000), with payments used to hire staff for party work in France, rather than to assist MEPs in the European Parliament.

It is alleged that parliamentary funds may have improperly been used to pay for Le Pen’s personal assistant Catherine Griset and bodyguard Thierry Legier.

In a statement, her lawyer denied wrongdoing and said she would launch an appeal.

She is one of 17 FN politicians being investigated, along with her estranged father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former FN leader.

During the Presidential election Marine Le Pen made inroads with white conservative gay voters by playing off concerns about Islamic extremism – despite pledging to repeal the country’s 2013 same-sex marriage law.

In her manifesto Le Pen promised to create an “improved” form of civil unions in the country to “replace” the equal marriage law passed under the current Socialist government.

The policy plan specified that the changes would “not be retroactive”, sparing Le Pen the potential headache of trying to unpick or downgrade thousands of existing same-sex marriages, but the replacement plan would have closed same-sex marriage to new couples – meaning gays would have once again only be able to enter civil partnerships.