France: Le Pen's party to retrieve half of seized funds

By Hajer M'tiri

PARIS (AA) – The Paris court of appeal on Wednesday ruled that France's far-right National Rally is to retrieve half of the 2 million euros ($2.35 million) seized by judges as part of an ongoing probe into alleged misuse of EU funds.

Judges had initially decided on June 28 to withhold 2 million euros, nearly half of the 4.5 million euros the National Rally — formerly known as the National Front — was allocated for 2018.

The party's leader Marine Le Pen protested the decision, calling it a "death sentence" for her party which has been struggling to recover from her defeat to Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential election.

The party’s lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut described the ruling as a "first victory" and said he was considering another appeal to recover the rest of the money.

Le Pen, who served as MEP in 2009-2017, along with 12 other RN MEPs, as well as the party itself, are accused by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of using funds generally available to EU lawmakers for parliamentary assistants to instead pay for staff based in France.

They deny the accusations.