Le Pen aides questioned in police custody over jobs scandal

An aide of Lebanon's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, left, gives a head scarf to French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (right) who arrived Monday in Beirut, , to wear during her meeting with the Mufti but she refused, upon her arrival at Dar al-Fatwa the headquarters of the Sunni Mufti, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. The meeting was canceled. Le Pen Stirred controversy in Lebanon over the headscarf issue and Syrian president Bashar Al Assad Assad whom she supports as " the lesser evil " (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
An aide of Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, left, gives a head scarf to French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (right) who arrived Monday in Beirut, , to wear during her meeting with the Mufti but she refused, upon her arrival at Dar al-Fatwa the headquarters of the Sunni Mufti, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. The meeting was canceled. Le Pen Stirred controversy in Lebanon over the headscarf issue and Syrian president Bashar Al Assad Assad whom she supports as ” the lesser evil ” (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Two aides to far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen were being questioned in police custody Wednesday, a source close to the inquiry told Agence France-Presse.

French anti-graft police were questioning the pair over suspicions that Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party defrauded the European Parliament of about 340,000 euros ($360,000).

A source in the party confirmed that Le Pen’s bodyguard Thierry Légier and her personal assistant Catherine Griset were questioned in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris where the party has its headquarters, as part of a probe launched in December.

The European Parliament accuses Le Pen, a deputy in the chamber, of using parliamentary funds to pay Légier and Griset while they worked for the FN elsewhere.

The body began docking half of Le Pen’s parliamentary salary of 16,000 euros this month after she refused to repay the funds.

The FN leader has angrily denied the allegations, and on Wednesday again described the investigation as a vendetta against her.

“The French people are well aware of the difference between genuine cases and political intrigues,” she told reporters at a campaign stop.

On Monday, police raided the FN’s Nanterre headquarters for a second time, the party said.

Despite the allegations, Le Pen is riding high ahead of France’s two-stage presidential election on April 23 and May 7 election.

Opinion polls currently show her winning the first round but failing to garner the more than 50 percent of votes needed for victory in the second round.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)