France’s far-Right Front National was on Tuesday facing a European corruption investigation over allegations it fraudulently paid 20 assistants to MEPs up to €7.5 million.
The European Parliament said the FN had listed the assistants on its French roster, even though under parliamentary rules they are only supposed to perform work directly linked to the work of the MEPs.
Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s Socialist president, said he had formally notified the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) over potential irregularities.
Suspicions were raised after the far-Right group published a staff directory on its website indicating that many MEP assistants worked from its Nanterre headquarters.
In some cases the assistants were shown on the website not to be working for the MEPs listed on their employment contracts, said the European Parliament.
However, FN leader Marine Le Pen, herself an MEP, said her party was the victim of “huge political manipulation”.
“We have nothing to reproach ourselves for, in this or any other area,” she told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Polls showed that the FN could win an unprecedented score in forthcoming local elections on March 22 and 29…
It does seem like a rather convenient time for the EU to discover this. It does not sound like major scandal to me. Is this a case where the EU — trying to get rid of Front National — hunts around for some type, any type of infraction that would normally be ignored?