EU court rejects Le Pen's challenge of misappropriation of funds by the European Parliament


PHOTO FILE: Marine Le Pen, party leader of the French far right national gathering, during a session of the National Assembly in Paris on November 27, 2018. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU's second highest court on Wednesday confirmed the EU's decision to recover money from the far-right Marine Le Pen, giving the former candidate the French Presidency a second legal setback this year.

Le Pen, Member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2017, hired a bodyguard for a three-month contract as a local assistant at the end of 2011, with a monthly pre-tax salary of over 9,000 euros ($ 10,155)

The EU's anti-fraud agency, OLAF, opened a 2014 investigation into payments and concluded that the European Parliament needed to recover this money. The Secretary General of Parliament said that a sum of 41,554 euros (46,902 dollars) of EU funds had been badly paid during this period and had to be repaid.

The Pen challenged this decision in the European Union Court, the second largest court in the European Union. She cited what she called the factual errors, abuse of power, discrimination and lack of independence of OLAF. The court rejected his arguments Wednesday, saying that they lacked evidence or legal basis.

The Tribunal also confirmed in June a parliamentary decision to recover € 300,000 related to another person hired by Le Pen as a personal assistant.

It can still appeal the decision of law to the Court of Justice of the European Communities, the highest court of the European Union.

Report by Philip Blenkinsop; Edited by Mark Heinrich

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