17:42 GMT30 October 2020
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    The honorary president of the Front National party has been hit with allegations that he kept an undisclosed trust with HSBC in Switzerland with the amount ofworth €2.2 million [$2.4 million].

    An investigative news website in France alleged on Monday that Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of France's Front National party, was the beneficiary of a hidden Swiss bank account worth €2.2 million [$2.4 million], which contained €1.7 million [$1.85 million] in gold ingots and coins.

    According to Mediapart, the account was held by a trust named Balerton Marketing Limited, allowing its holder to remain anonymous. In May 2014 it was transferred from HSBC to the private Swiss bank Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique, the day before the European elections.

    The details of the account came to light after the French prosecuting authorities were given the details of the trust by the French anti-money laundering organization Tracfin, part of the French Ministry of Finance. According to the documents in the possession of Tracfin, Gérald Gérin, who worked as Jean-Marie Le Pen's butler, and later parliamentary assistant, was the legal beneficiary of the trust, while Jean-Marie Le Pen is believed to have been the economic beneficiary.

    Front National Vice President Florian Philippot told French TV channel iTELE that the allegations had come as a surprise to his party: "I don't know whether it's true, but knowing Jean-Marie Le Pen, I would find it strange if it were," said Philippot.

    "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."

    Earlier this month Jean-Marie Le Pen, a current member of the European Parliament, was forced by the party to withdraw his candidacy for the French regional elections in December, following comments the 86-year-old made in a newspaper interview about the Holocaust. Le Pen was admitted to a hospital in the days after the political row after suffering what he called a "small heart problem."

    His daughter Marine, the current leader of the Front National, said that her father "seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide," and ordered him to face a party disciplinary committee, to take place at the end of this month.


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