Marine Le Pen formally investigated in European Union funding inquiry

France's Marine Le Pen charged over funding scandal

Ms Le Pen has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and characterised the inquiry as meddling in the party's internal affairs because of its anti-European positions.

Leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen was placed under formal investigation over the alleged use of a European Parliament fund to pay her party's staff.

The Parliament believes it may have been defrauded to the tune of some €340,000 ($300,000), with payments used to hire staff for party work in France, rather than to assist MEPs in the European Parliament. She was also charged with complicity of breach of trust for her wider role as head of the party. Le Pen is one of 17 Front National MEPs who are being investigated along with 40 of their assistants, Le Monde reports.

Sixteen other National Front representatives in the European Parliament have been under investigation by the French authorities since 2015.

Le Pen also faces an investigation into the financing of past election campaigns and a probe into her tweeting of pictures of Islamic State violence.

Ms Le Pen's lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut said investigating magistrates in Paris had this afternoon summoned her and "as expected charged her".

At the time, Le Pen was competing closely with ultimate victor Macron.

"It makes no sense", National Front vice president Florian Philippot, Le Pen's top lieutenant, said on the BFM-TV station. Because of that, she had been placed under investigation for "dissemination of violent images". The case goes to trial if they do.

If tried and convicted, Le Pen faces up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to Euro 375,000 (USD 425,000), although it is unlikely she would receive a custodial sentence.

Ms. Le Pen faces an indictment of "breach of trust" as part of an ongoing investigation by French authorities into the paying of European Union parliamentary assistants. Aliot last week refused to respond to a summons by investigators, French media reported.

Allegations surrounding the funding were raised shortly before the election, on April 27.

Macron himself is determined to avoid any possible connection to the lax or corrupt political practices of the past.

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