Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing Front National, is under investigation along with her father for allegedly underestimating their personal fortunes by 60 percent in financial declarations last year. If the allegations hold up, there could be far-reaching consequences for the populist politician in the form of a potential ban from politics for a decade or even a jail sentence — although both are highly unlikely. The complaint comes from the watchdog “high authority for openness in public life,” which says its investigation casts doubt on the “precision and sincerity” of the financial declarations Marine and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen made in 2014. Press leaks have revealed that the 87-year old Jean-Marie is suspected of under-declaring his fortune by €1 million, and Marine Le Pen by several hundred thousand euros. They have both denied the allegations however, and Marine has already counter-sued the watchdog for “abuse of power.”
It is not, however, the first controversy over the family’s finances: the Front National is the subject of a criminal investigation in “fraud and embezzlement”, while Jean-Marie Le Pen is being investigated for tax-evasion — although they have both denied these accusations. France’s law that politicians need to declare their wealth is new since a 2013 tax evasion scandal involving the Socialist budget minister. Now, French politicians who do not fully declare their wealth could face a €45,000 fine, up to three years in prison and a ten-year period of “ineligibility” to stand for office.
Read the full story at The Independent.