Le Pen under formal probe in European Union fund misuse case

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Le Pen faces up to three years in prison and a hefty fine but it is believed to be unlikely that she would get a prison term if found guilty.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front party, has been charged in connection to the party's alleged misuse of funds from the European Parliament.

Le Pen is suspected of using parliamentary funds to pay Catherine Griset from 2009 to 2016 and bodyguard Thierry Legier from 2014 to 2016 for allegedly working as aides in Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, even though they also have roles in her far-right National Front party. She was also charged for being complicit in the whole party's breach of trust, as the party leader. Le Pen is one of 17 Front National MEPs who are being investigated along with 40 of their assistants, Le Monde reports.

The case was triggered by a complaint from the European parliament, which accused the Front National of defrauding it on a large scale.

In her manifesto Le Pen promised to create an "improved" form of civil unions in the country to "replace" the equal marriage law passed under the current Socialist government.

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Her lawyer said: "In line with a commitment made during the presidential campaign, Le Pen responded favorably today to a summons from investigative judges, who as planned, charged her".

Le Pen denies the charges.

The charges were confirmed by Mr Rodolphe Bosselut, Ms Le Pen's lawyer, in an interview with the BFMTV news channel on Friday.

The centrist MoDem party, which is allied to President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move party, has been targeted in a preliminary probe over similar allegations involving assistants' salaries. Because of that, she had been placed under investigation for "dissemination of violent images". At the end of their work, they will have to decide whether to send the case to trial or dismiss it.

The allegations first arose on 27 April, ahead of the second round of voting in the French presidential election.

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