Court: 2 French far-right lawmakers must repay EU parliament

PARIS (AP) — The EU’s top court ruled on Wednesday that Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right National Front, and a ranking party official must repay nearly 600,000 euros ($744,550) to the European Parliament for wages wrongly paid for supposed parliamentary assistants.

The European Court of Justice ruling upheld a decision by the European Parliament seeking to recover the money from Le Pen and long-time National Front member Bruno Gollnisch. The two lawmakers had sought to annul the parliament’s decision. Gollnisch, a member of the party’s political bureau, quickly said he planned to appeal.

Le Pen must return more than 320,000 euros spent by the parliament between 2009 and 2014 on a member of his staff hired as a local assistant. Gollnisch must pay back more than 275,985 euros.

Numerous parliamentarians have been targeted for allegedly misusing funds doled out to pay aides who, it is claimed, didn’t actually do the work.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, is among 20 French European lawmakers, on the left and right, being investigated by French prosecutors who considered their cases grave enough to take them on.

Gollnisch said in a statement that minority parties were being targeted by a “politicized administration” within the European Parliament “that has methodically organized for 18 months the spoliation of the means to accomplish my mandate, and at the same time tries to ruin me financially.”

“I was presumed ‘guilty’ without proof,” Gollnisch’s statement said.

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