• France's news in English

France to probe Le Pen's 'hidden €2.2 million'

AFP · 28 Apr 2015, 15:15

Published: 28 Apr 2015 15:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French prosecutors said on Tuesday they would examine allegations that far-right patriarch Jean-Marie Le Pen hid
money in a secret account in Switzerland.

The claims come amid a bitter feud between Le Pen and his daughter Marine, who now leads the party, which has been facing a string of investigations into campaign funding both by French and European authorities.

Le Pen "kept a hidden account at HSBC, as well as the (private Swiss) CBH bank through a trust placed under the legal responsibility of his butler, Gerald Gerin," the investigative website said.

"Of the €2.2 million placed in the trust account, 1.7 million were kept as gold bars and coins," it added.

"Prosecutors in Nanterre (west of Paris) received this information from the anti-money laundering unit Tracfin," Mediapart said.

Contacted by AFP, neither CBH nor HSBC would comment on the report. Le Pen also refused to comment, while FN Vice President Florian Philippot told French TV channel iTELE he knew nothing about the claim.

"I don't know whether it's true, but knowing Jean-Marie Le Pen, I would find it strange if it were," Philippot said.

"I've spoken to Marine Le Pen on the phone. She is very surprised and doesn't know anything about it either. Like the rest of us, she is waiting for Jean-Marie Le Pen to clarify and explain," he added.

Tracfin, an intelligence service that investigates money laundering among other crimes notified prosecutors in the Paris suburb of Nanterre with their suspicions on Monday.

"This notification is going to be examined by prosecutor Catherine Denis and the financial division to decide whether to pursue judicial action," the prosecutor's office said.

Asked about the allegations, Le Pen on Tuesday blasted a "general offensive against" the far-right party.

"I do not need to explain myself over what anyone says, particularly parapolice bodies tasked with sowing disruption in the political class," he told France Inter radio.

In 2013, the former paratrooper admitted he kept an account in Switzerland at UBS that he had opened in 1981.

The longtime FN leader and current European parliament member has been under investigation since late 2013 over undeclared assets estimated at €1.1 million.

A separate probe also underway focuses on the FN's campaign financing since Marine Le Pen's takeover -- with five people and the events company Riwal already charged -- while the party has also been referred to the EU's anti-corruption agency.

'Russian money'

The party has also denied taking money from Russian leader Vladimir Putin in return for support for the Kremlin strongman, but recently received a €9 million loan ($9.8 million) from the Czech Russian Bank.

Story continues below…

The elder Le Pen recently repeated his claim that Nazi gas chambers were merely a "detail of history", comments that have seen him convicted in the past for denying the Holocaust.

Marine Le Pen distanced himself her father after his latest outbursts, saying he had committed "political suicide".

Under pressure from his daughter, the elder Le Pen then gave up his bid to run in a regional vote, though he had vowed not to go quietly.

He was replaced by his 25-year-old granddaughter, Marion Marechal Le Pen.

The anti-immigration NF, which under Marine Le Pen is trying to clean up its racist image, wants France to withdraw from the European Union, pull out of the euro and reintroduce the franc.

It has made a series of major gains in recent elections, topping the poll in the European election in May 2014.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available