France: judiciary investigates loan paid to far-right party via UAE

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The judiciary in France is investigating an €8 million loan paid via a bank based in the United Arab Emirates to the French far-right National Rally party, Mediapart has revealed. Formerly known as the National Front, the party is led by Marine Le Pen. The loan, said the investigative journal, apparently bailed out the party after the 2017 elections.

In October 2019, Mediapart revealed that the loan came from French businessman Laurent Foucher. who has a range of commercial interests in Africa. It pointed out that it was transferred from a bank in the UAE but questions still remain over the source of the money.

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Although the party repaid the loan in March 2018, further questions have been raised about payments to the broker involved, former National Front Member of the European Parliament, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser.

According to Mediapart, in December 2019 the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office received information from the Anti-Corruption Agency. The prosecutors then attached agency officials to the preliminary investigation underway since 2016 into the commissions received by Schaffhauser for the two loans he helped secure for the National Front: a Russian loan of €9.6 million in 2014 and the later loan in 2017.

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A National Front official told Mediapart that the party had obtained the loan “under clear and legal circumstances,” and denied paying a direct commission to Schaffhauser.

In October 2016, Mediapart published an investigative report about the UAE’s influence over Marine Le Pen. It explained that in July 2014 Le Pen met with representative of the UAE who offered “to help her party”, and that in May the following year Le Pen’s trip to Egypt was “funded by the United Arab Emirates”.

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