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France’s far-right National Front charged with fraud

© AFP archive picture | Despite her party's woes, Marine Le Pen is tipped to do well in upcoming local elections.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-09-10

France's far-right National Front has been charged with misuse of assets and complicity in fraud in an ongoing probe into its campaign financing, the party’s treasurer said on Wednesday.

Investigating judges suspect senior FN officials and associated companies of defrauding the state by inflating campaign expenses for the 2012 legislative elections.

"We are innocent of all the accusations against us," party treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just told reporters.

A "micro-party" called Jeanne (named after FN heroine Joan of Arc), is suspected of having received illicit financing from an events company, which has already been charged along with six other people in the probe.

The charges against the FN come three months before regional elections that are seen as a litmus test for the party’s political ambitions ahead of 2017 presidential polls.

The party remains at the top of French political opinion polls (with 27 percent of voting intentions for the regional elections according to a July Ifop survey) despite its legal woes and a bitter family feud in which leader Marine Le Pen ousted her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen over a string of controversial remarks.

While the FN remains anti-EU and anti-immigration it has worked hard to soften its image since Marine took over in 2011 and has seen its popularity soar, enjoying a series of election successes.

Several polls have shown she could pose a serious challenge to the conservative Republicans of former president Nicolas Sarkozy as well as the ruling Socialists in 2017.

The FN is also under investigation by the European Parliament for suspected fraud totalling 7.5 million euros over salaries paid to EU parliamentary assistants.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2015-09-09

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