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France's Marine Le Pen Target Of Fraud Investigation
July 22 2017, 10:37 | Irvin Gilbert
France's Marine Le Pen charged over funding scandal
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen is being formally investigated over an ongoing European parliament funding scandal.
The controversy shadowed Le Pen's campaign for the French presidency. The legal step taken means prosecutors believe there is "serious or consistent evidence" that indicates probable involvement in a crime. Le Pen has consistently denied the allegations against herself, saying that they were the work of her political opponents.
Four members of the MoDem party, which was aligned with Emmanuel Macron's En Marche, were forced out of the government having been accused of using European Union funds to pay party workers.
The European Parliament is seeking a repayment of EUR340,000 of misused funds from Le Pen, who, they allege, claimed back salaries from the European Parliament between 2009 and 2016 for two supposed aides who were actually working for her party.
She has denied any wrongdoing.
The far-right politician was beaten in the final round of the French Presidential election earlier this year by centrist Emmanuel Macron.
On Monday, Le Pen is to appeal the investigating magistrates' decision which "violates the principle of the separation of powers", according to the defense lawyer.
In legislative elections held directly afterwards she won a seat in the northern former coalmining region of Pas-de-Calais.
The case was first triggered by a complaint about the National Front to the European Parliament.
Those pictures saw her placed under investigation for the "dissemination of violent images".