France investigating Marine Le Pen & National Rally for FRAUD after far-right’s defeat by hard-left in shock election

France investigating Marine Le Pen & National Rally for FRAUD after far-right’s defeat by hard-left in shock election
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FRENCH prosecutors today launched an investigation into “illegal financing” by Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Rally party.

It comes after her shocking loss in the country’s general election, which saw a new Left coalition deliver a tactical eleventh-hour blow to the Right.

a woman with blonde hair is getting out of a car
Marine Le Pen arrives at the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party headquarters in Paris on July 8
Supporters of the left wing union, New Popular Front
Left wing supporters cheer after the New Popular Front win in France
French riot police stand in position near burning bicycles
Riots exploded across France during a turbulent week of elections
Members of Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party drinking champagne before the exit polls
Members of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party drinking champagne before realising their election defeat

Judicial sources in Paris on Tuesday confirmed that they have opened a criminal enquiry tied to Le Pen’s attempt to become President of France in 2022.

One said: “A judicial investigation was opened after a report to the courts from the National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing.”

The enquiry is believed to be related to the National Rally (RN) party allegedly stealing taxpayer-generated funds from the European Parliament.

Le Pen is already facing up to 10 years in prison and a ban on standing for elected office if she is found guilty following an embezzlement trial which opens in Paris in September.

Sources say there is compelling evidence that the 55-year-old illegally accessed some £513,000 on behalf of her party.

She will appear in the dock with 12 other members of the RN, which was previously called the National Front.

On hearing about the trial last September, Ms Le Pen accused the judiciary of acting in a manner that was ‘above all political’.

She raged: “We will present our arguments before the court on their merits.”

All those implicated deny any wrongdoing.

Violent riots and demonstrations exploded across France this past week as left-leaning protestors took to the pavements to rage against an expected right-wing gain in their elections.

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It came after Le Pen’s party swept through the polls in the first round on Sunday June 30 and was expected to win the most seats on July 7 – in the second round.

But in a bombshell twist, the New Popular Front (NFP) – a left-wing coalition which did not exist a month ago – secured the most seats in parliament.

Following the drastic win for the NFP coalition – chaos ensued again with dramatic pictures showing mayhem in the streets.

French outlet Visegrad 24 claimed the far-left were celebrating the win by “attacking police”.

Tens of thousands of riot cops – including 5,000 in and around Paris – were deployed to make sure the “radical right and radical left do not take advantage of the situation to cause mayhem”, interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.

The NFP was forged after French President Emmanuel Macron called a snap election in May.

It is made up of politicians from the moderate Socialist, green Ecologist, French communist and hard-left France Unbowed parties.

France Unbowed – the largest party in the left coalition – is led by the controversial Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has been compared to the UK’s former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Taking advantage of France’s two-stage voting system, some candidates from the coalition dropped out in certain areas to give their allies a better chance of beating Le Pen’s far-right candidates.

But without the 289 seats out of 577 needed for a total majority, French government is set to be paralysed by a chaotic hung parliament – possibly for years to come.

Le Pen’s own father, Jean-Marine Le Pen, the 95-year-old founder of the National Front, was also on the court’s defendant sheet, but last week it was ruled that he was “unfit to stand trial,” because of his age.

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Embezzlement is a crime punishable in France by “up to 10 years in prison”, and penalties also available to judges include fines equivalent to around £1 million.

Prosecutors are also hoping for “the additional penalty of deprivation of the right to be elected, for a maximum period of five years,” said a source close to the case.

Le Pen is currently an MP, so if she were to be convicted following trial, she would be ruled out of the 2027 presidential election, despite styling herself as a future president.

The investigation into RN fraud began in March 2015, when the European Parliament announced that it had referred possible irregularities to the EU anti-fraud office.

It mainly concerned salaries paid to parliamentary assistants, and even to Le Pen’s bodyguard.

Le Pen is accused of personally diverting some £11,400 of EU funds taken illegally during her time as an MEP, between 2004 and 2017, into party coffers.

This effectively means that the party was using EU money for its own business in Paris, rather than for work in Brussels.

French politics expert gives their take on ‘fragmented’ result

By Ellie Doughty, Foreign News Reporter

Laura Montecchio from King’s College London, who studies radical right-wing politics in France, spoke to The Sun about the shocking result.

She told us the surprising final seat tally shows how crucial “voter mobilisation” is in the country, where its unique two-stage voting system lends itself to tactical voting.

But Montecchio dubbed the new government “fragmented” as France is faced with a hung parliament.

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Some 200 centre and left politicians stepped down and asked voters to cast their ballots tactically to keep Marine Le Pen’s right-wing candidates from victory.

Montecchio told The Sun: “The resurgence of the left in the final round of voting has underscored the crucial role of voter mobilisation particularly among the youth.”

Pictures of demonstrators across France on Sunday night through Monday morning showed young voters out in their droves, celebrating the win for the Left.

However, the NFP coalition – made up of socialists, communists, green candidates and hard-left wingers – didn’t pull out a majority.

The country now faces a tough challenge ahead with a hung parliament.

France’s government could be in for a chaotic few years – with two many cooks in the kitchen.

And the biggest parties, covering a wide berth on the political spectrum, have a fractious and divisive relationship.

Laura dubbed it a “fragmented left, which lacks an absolute majority”, following the surprising result.

She told The Sun that the coalition’s win does highlight the “significant influence the far right wields over French and European politics”.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron arrive at a polling station in Le Touquet
French President Macron did better than expected in the elections
Marine Le Pen's National Rally party has come third
Marine Le Pen with her RN party leader, after their initial win on June 30


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