Le Pen Refuses to Repay “Misused EU Cash”

Le Pen Refuses to Repay “Misused EU Cash”Le Pen Refuses to Repay “Misused EU Cash”

A European Parliament deadline for France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen to return more than €300,000 it says she has misspent has passed.

The presidential candidate had until midnight to repay the money, but said she had no intention of doing so.

The parliament says she wrongly used the funds to pay an aide at the National Front’s headquarters in Paris, BBC reported.

She says she is the victim of a politically-motivated vendetta.

If she does not repay the money, the parliament could respond by withholding as much as half of her salary and allowances, which her opponents say total almost €11,000 a month.

Le Pen is one of the frontrunners in the French presidential election to be held in April and May. If she wins, she has promised a Brexit-style referendum on France’s membership of the EU.

Polls suggest that she will make it to the runoff where she is likely to face conservative candidate Francois Fillon or centrist Emmanuel Macron.

“I will not submit to the persecution, a unilateral decision taken by political opponents ... without proof and without waiting for a judgment from the court action I have started,” she told Reuters on Tuesday.

The money the European Parliament wants returned was used to pay the salary of Catherine Griset, a close friend of Le Pen as well as her Cabinet director.

The funds were conditional on Griset spending most of her working time in Brussels or Strasbourg.

However, the parliament says most of her time was instead spent working in the National Front’s headquarters in Paris. The party will face a second demand for €41,554 in wages paid to her bodyguard.

The far-right leader also tried to distance herself from financial allegations overshadowing Republican candidate Francois Fillon, who has vigorously denied that his wife was paid €834,000 for fake jobs.

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