French prosecutors have recommended that Marine Le Pen, the conservative ex-presidential candidate and leader of the National Rally (RN) party, along with 26 other party members, be put on trial for the alleged embezzlement of EU funds. The prosecutors claim that between 2004 and 2016, money allocated to cover the expenses of European Parliament members was instead used to pay for assistants who were actually working for the RN. Among those implicated in the scheme is Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s father and co-founder of the party. In total, 11 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), 12 parliamentary assistants, and four other staffers have been referred to trial.
If convicted, Marine Le Pen could face up to 10 years in prison and be banned from holding public office for the same period. The allegations against her and the RN party members are serious and could have far-reaching consequences for the future of the party and Le Pen’s political career. The recommendation for trial is a significant development in the long-running investigation into the alleged misappropriation of funds.
In 2016, the European Anti-Fraud Office reported that Le Pen owed €339,000 ($361,000). However, her lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, claims that she paid back almost €330,000 in July of this year. Despite the partial repayment, Bosselut stressed that it does not constitute an acknowledgment of the validity of the European Parliament’s claims. Le Pen has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has maintained that the accusations against her are politically motivated.
The RN party released a statement on Friday, asserting that the allegations stem from a misunderstanding of the work of opposition lawmakers and their assistants. Le Pen herself has argued that the charges are part of a concerted effort to discredit her and her party.
Marine Le Pen has been a prominent figure in French politics, coming second in both the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, losing to Emmanuel Macron on both occasions. While she stepped down as party president last year, she continues to lead the RN group in the French National Assembly. The outcome of the trial could have significant implications for both the party and Le Pen’s political future.
The recommendation for trial by French prosecutors marks a major development in the ongoing investigation into the alleged embezzlement of EU funds by Marine Le Pen and other RN party members. The trial, if it proceeds, could determine the fate of Le Pen’s political career and have repercussions for the RN party as a whole. As the case unfolds, it will undoubtedly attract significant attention both within France and internationally. The trial is expected to shed light on the extent of the alleged embezzlement scheme and could have lasting consequences for the French political landscape.