Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front, was charged on allegations of illegally spending EU parliamentary funds to pay party staff based in France, AFP reported, citing his lawyers. Prior to this, the defendant was grilled by judges regarding the work of three of his aides for over four hours.
"[Le Pen] is very tired of all this. [The case is an] incursion of the judiciary into the legislature", one of his lawyers, Frederic Joachim, said.
Le Pen was stripped of parliamentary immunity following an investigation in March 2019. Prosecutors believe that the former head of the National Front, now known as National Rally, paid party staffers as though they were working as assistants of MEPs, when in fact they never had any such jobs.
Previously, an EU court ruled that Jean-Marie Le Pen must return 320,000 euros ($354,000) to the European Parliament "unduly" paid to "fake" MEP assistants. The politician denounced the case as a "political witch hunt". Le Pen's daughter and current head of National Rally, Marine Le Pen, also faces charges of embezzling EU parliamentary funds.
Investigators suspect that around 7 million euros were embezzled in the National Front's scheme between 2009 and 2017.