Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN) is under investigation, again, by the Paris public prosecutor. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

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Paris prosecutor goes after Marine Le Pen over campaign financing


Marine Le Pen’s National Rally has been hit with a judicial investigation into suspicions of illicit financing of her presidential campaign in 2022.

According to French broadcaster BFMTV, which broke the news, the probe was opened on July 2 and involves several alleged infractions of French law.

Le Pen is allegedly implicated in improper campaign financing through loans from legal entities, misuse of public office for personal gain, fraud against public institutions and document forgery, a judicial source told BFMTV, which was subsequently confirmed by the prosecutor’s office.

The news channel claimed Le Pen was not the only candidate in the 2022 presidential election to have been the subject of a preliminary report by the National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP), but that it was her case that triggered the investigation.

Le Figaro wrote that in mid-December 2022, the CNCCFP rejected expenses related to the “applying and removing of decals” on 12 buses rented for Le Pen’s campaign at €316,182. The Commission deemed that type of advertising an “irregular expense”.

Le Pen, who lost to now-President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the election in 2022, initially appealed this decision to the Constitutional Council but later withdrew that.

She spent €11.5 million on her 2022 presidential campaign, her third try for president. In her 2017 campaign, the Commission rejected about €874,000 of her expenses claims. Most of that money came from loans from her party and her father’s small political group. She did not challenge that decision in 2017.

In June, France’s highest court finally approved the conviction of the RN for overcharging for campaign materials used by party candidates in the 2012 legislative elections which were reimbursed by the government.

France created an independent administrative authority to oversee the auditing of campaign accounts to guarantee fairness and transparency after a series of secret financing scandals in the 1980s.

Expenses are capped, scrutinised, and then reimbursed according to each person’s electoral score. To be entitled to reimbursement of their expenses, candidates must file their campaign accounts with the CNCCFP two months after the election.

It is not the only legal predicament for Marine Le Pen. The same Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office said in September 2023 that it wanted her and 26 people affiliated with the RN to stand trial over the alleged misuse of European Union funds.

The RN and those involved in this case are accused of having used European money to pay employees of the party who worked solely for the RN and had nothing to do with Europe in practice. Le Pen has always denied any wrongdoing in the case, as have the other accused.

The European Parliament estimated in 2018 that funds totalling €6.8 million had been misused from 2009 to 2017.

In the past, former president Nicolas Sarkozy was connected to the misuse of campaign financing. In the 2012 so-called Bygmalion affair, a case of fraudulent accounting to hide overspending, Sarkozy was found guilty and sentenced to one year of house arrest.

In another case, Sarkozy was accused of receiving illegal funding from then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign. That case is still ongoing.

The hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon also got into bother over his campaign accounts in the 2017 campaign.