France's Le Pen defiant as European Union seeks return of misspent money

03 February, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen has defied a deadline set by the European Union authorities for her to repay funds they claim she has misspent.

The request follows the European anti-fraud office's findings that some aides were paid from the European budget while actually working as Le Pen's cabinet chief and bodyguard, breaking the parliament's rules.

National Front treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just confirmed Tuesday that Le Pen had refused to repay the funds.

France24 reported that the repayment order comes at a bad time for Le Pen, who has admitted failure in securing loans from French banks in order to run her presidential campaign.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says the shooting does not mean the province has failed in its attempt to be an open society. In another statement texted to Reuters, Le Pen also said the demand was "a unilateral decision taken by political opponents.without proof and without waiting for a judgment from the court action I have started".

MEP salaries are paid on the 15th of each month, so the procedure could begin shortly, the source said, adding that it could amount to 8,000 euros per month when other parliamentary payments are included.

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It comes as Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon was accused of paying his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros in pay when she wasn't doing any work, prompting an official inquiry.

Le Pen and her representatives had had "many occasions" to explain her position, the source said.

European Union authorities gave Le Pen a midnight deadline to return the money.

Ms Le Pen is one of the front-runners in the French presidential election to be held in April and May. But the watchdog reports that most of her time was spent working in the National Front's headquarters in Paris.

A poll by Kantar Sofres on Sunday put Ms Le Pen on 25 per cent, ahead of Mr Fillon and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, who were neck-and-neck.

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