French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and other members of the National Front (FN) will be asked to repay 5 million euros ($5.43 million) to the European Parliament for misuse of EU funds after an investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud watch dog.
The European Parliament claims Le Pen used its funds to hire her bodyguard and chief of staff for work outside the EU. The initial estimate was believed to be 1.9 million euros ($2.06 million) but “new elements” in the investigation have more than doubled the estimate, a source told Politico.
The assembly believes 16 other FN lawmakers used EU money to pay assistants for work outside the assembly.
The legislature started a procedure to lift Le Pen’s immunity as a member of parliament Wednesday. The process is unlikely to get approved before the French run-off election May 7.
Rodolphe Bosselut, Le Pen’s attorney, said in February that she won’t comply with any summons until after the election. Le Pen denies any wrongdoing and says she’s part of “political dirty tricks.”
European lawmakers lifted Le Pen’s immunity in a separate case concerning social media posts of Islamic State violence in March.