PARIS – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has been placed under formal investigation over an alleged European parliament funding scandal.
The allegations were passed to French investigators who have opened a case.
The parliament suspects some $5.4m went to assistants of Le Pen’s National Front (FN) who were not working for MEPs but were actually engaged in FN party work in France.
The National Front has denied the allegations.
Le Pen, 48, has also denied any wrongdoing and has said the case is politically motivated.
The alleged fraudulent payments – from 2012 onwards – concern her and several other FN MEPs.
The allegations first arose on 27 April, ahead of the second round of voting in the French presidential election.
Le Pen was soundly beaten by Emmanuel Macron, by 66 per cent to 34 per cent. She later won a seat in the French parliament in legislative elections.
Ms Le Pen had refused to answer questions on the matter during the campaign but said she would co-operate after the final round of presidential election voting.
Her lawyer said she had been summoned by magistrates in Paris and “as expected, placed under criminal investigation”.
The FN has been highly critical of the EU, rejecting its free-market principles and open-border policies.