The European Parliament suspects the National Front (FN) of having employed several parliamentary assistants who were actually working for the party and not within the framework of the European mandates of their deputies. In December 2016, the public prosecutor’s office in Paris took over the case, opening a judicial investigation (after initially initiating a preliminary investigation) for breach of trust, concealment of breach of trust, fraud, concealed work, and forgery.
The investigation concerns the period 2010-2014 – two consecutive terms – and is partly based on the investigations of Olaf, the European Anti-Fraud Office. Olaf, scrutinised the activity of the twelve parliamentary assistants employed by the FN under the two terms. The report was handed to the judiciary in July and extracts were published on Thursday by Mediapart and Marianne, who have investigated the matter. While Marine Le Pen and the National Front claim to be victims of persecution, the 28-page document could be embarrassing for the party president.
EUR 7,237 net per month for part-time work
Le Pen is targeted in particular for having employed Thierry Légier, who was in also working as her bodyguard, and Catherine Griset, who worked under her direct authority at the headquarters of the National Front in Nanterre.
“After a first contract of four months, in 2009, Thierry Légier (…) signed a second one from October 1 to December 31, 2011. He then received a monthly remuneration of 7.237 euros net for three quarter time. The equivalent of ‘9,649 euros net full-time’, Olaf investigators described this remuneration described as ‘extremely high’, “says Marianne .
A bulletin and a contract “apparently false”
Moreover, concerning the activities of the bodyguard, Olaf considers that Marine Le Pen has produced a salary statement and an “apparently false” employment contract and that “Marine Le Pen has acknowledged on the one hand that the salary established between October and December 2011 (…) was never paid to the named beneficiary, Mr Légier, and that on the other hand she had not employed Mr Légier during those three months ” .
“The object of this operation would have been to obtain from Parliament the regularization of expenses of previous salaries and charges which had not been paid by the latter,” the report said.
In short, Marine Le Pen would have used the finances in question not to pay her assistant, who according to her did not work at that time, but to obtain the reimbursement of expenses. As the document also states, “the facts in question could constitute criminal offenses of breach of trust, even fraud, as well as forgeries, according to the respective provisions of the French penal code.”
340,000 euros retained on the compensation of Marine Le Pen
“OLAF officials assisted French police officers in the exploitation of the data seized during searches. Investigators must establish the facts that are likely to prosecutions, those that are not, “says Mediapart , who mentions that Olaf is an administrative body whose purpose is to conduct investigations and make recommendations. If it considers that prosecution is justified, it would transmit its findings to the European Parliament and to the authorities of the country concerned, and that is what happened in this case.
For the same case, Marine Le Pen refused to reimburse the 340,000 euros of salary paid to these two assistants (Thierry Légier and Catherine Griset), which the European Parliament requested. Since 1 February, this reimbursement is directly withheld from the MEP’s allowances, as stated by Mediapart : 50% of her elected allowance, 100% of her overheads and 50% of her daily subsistence allowances are taken away.