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France's Marine Le Pen Target Of Fraud Investigation

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen leaves a polling station after casting her vote in Henin Beaumont, Northern France, in parliamentary elections held earlier this month.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front party, has been placed under formal investigation for allegedly misusing European Parliament funds for party work. Le Pen has denied any wrongdoing.

According to The Guardian, "Under French law, being put under formal investigation means there is 'serious or consistent evidence' that points to probable involvement in a crime."

The newspaper adds:

"The case was triggered by a complaint from the European parliament, which accused the Front National of defrauding it on a large scale. An investigation by a European parliament watchdog claimed that between 2011 and 2012 Le Pen had illicitly paid party staff for Front National work using money that should only be used for [Members of the European Parliament] to pay assistants for legislative tasks."

Le Pen — who took over the leadership of the National Front from her controversial father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011 – made an unsuccessful bid for the French presidency, losing last month to Emmanuel Macron.

The allegations of fraudulent payments first arose in April after the first round of voting in the presidential election, the BBC reports. At the time, Le Pen refused to answer questions about the alleged wrongdoing.

The BBC writes:

"Her lawyer said she had been summoned by magistrates in Paris and 'as expected, placed under criminal investigation.'

The [National Front] has been highly critical of the EU, rejecting its free-market principles and open-border policies."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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