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France investigates far right's European Parliament aides

Far-right leader and candidate for next spring presidential elections Marine le Pen, arrives for her New Year's address to the media in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. French far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is cheering Ford Motor Co.'s decision to shift investment from Mexico to the U.S., calling it a victory for the protectionist policies she champions. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
January 05, 2017 - 5:16 AM

PARIS - French authorities have stepped up their investigation into accusations that members of the far right National Front tricked the European Parliament out of several hundred thousand euros paid to legislative aides.

Party members are accused of using assistants for political activity even though they're on the parliament's payroll.

It's one of multiple investigations around the National Front or its finances that are casting a shadow over party leader Marine Le Pen's campaign for France's April-May presidential election.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday that a judicial inquiry was opened last month into the use of parliamentary aides, on potential charges including fraud, abuse of trust and organized criminal activity.

Party treasurer Wallerand Saint Just said the accusations are unfounded and a "persecution" campaign aimed at hurting Le Pen's presidential bid.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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