France's Le Pen flays media reports on alleged misuse of EU funds ahead of election

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Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally party
Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally party

Paris [France], May 16 (ANI/Sputnik): Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's right-wing National Rally party, said on Sunday that media reports alleging her of embezzlement of EU funds through a fictitious employment scheme were aimed at undermining her presidency bid in the 2022 vote.

Late on Saturday, Le Journal du Dimanche reported, citing a five-year-long investigation by the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption, Financial and Tax Offenses, that Le Pen and other senior National Rally members embezzled some 6.8 million euros (USD 8.2 million) in European Parliament funding through fictitious employment of assistants.

"Le Journal du Dimanche, the official authority of the Macronists, brings up once again the same old story of parliamentary assistants as it does at every election. Nothing new under the sun other than good polls?" Le Pen tweeted.

In 2018, Paris prosecutors accused National Rally of not actually employing and reimbursing all the assistants whom it declared to the European Parliament and requested funding for salaries. The EU legislature subsequently froze the party's funding, while a French court withheld 2 million euros worth of government subsidies.

Le Pen has repeatedly refuted accusations, firing back at French prosecutors for trying to "kill" the country's largest opposition party. She warned that the party might cease to exist as early as in August because of inability to pay its employees.

The French presidential election is scheduled for April 2022. Le Pen was a presidential candidate in the 2017 vote, where she lost to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, collecting 33.9 per cent of the vote against 66.1 per cent for Macron. (ANI/Sputnik)