Le Pen under formal probe in European Union fund misuse case

Due to that win, Le Pen gave up her seat in the European Parliament.

Leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen was placed under formal investigation over the alleged use of a European Parliament fund to pay her party's staff.

Her lawyer said: "In line with a commitment made during the presidential campaign, Le Pen responded favorably today to a summons from investigative judges, who as planned, charged her". Since then, Le Pen has maintained her innocence and said that she would cooperate fully with any investigation once the election had concluded. She was also charged for being complicit in the whole party's breach of trust, as the party leader.

Ms Le Pen has denied the allegations, which she called political "persecution" against her. The legal step taken means prosecutors believe there is "serious or consistent evidence" that indicates probable involvement in a crime.

The National Front, led by Ms Le Pen, is accused of putting staff members who did political work unrelated to the European Union on the European Parliament's payroll by having them sign up as phoney parliamentary aides.

In March, French investigators raided the party's headquarters outside Paris in order to find out if the European Parliament funding for MEP assistance had been abused with fake jobs. All have denied any wrongdoing.

The French judiciary has already requested that the European Parliament lift Le Pen's immunity.

Those pictures saw her placed under investigation for the "dissemination of violent images".

It is alleged that parliamentary funds may have improperly been used to pay for Le Pen's personal assistant Catherine Griset and bodyguard Thierry Legier.

If tried and convicted, Le Pen faces up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to Euro 375,000 (USD 425,000), although it is unlikely she would receive a custodial sentence.

  • Fernando Stephens