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Economy

Front National's Le Pen had Swiss bank account, Mediapart claims

media Jean-Marie Le Pen hands over the party to his daughter Marine Le Pen Reuters/Stephane Mahe

France’s far-right Front National (FN) has been caught up in the fallout from the Jérôme Cahuzac scandal about the former budget minister's secret bank account abroad, with revelations that party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen had a Swiss bank account. The news is an embarrassment for his daughter, Marine Le Pen, who now leads the party.

FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen's close associate Jean-Pierre Mouchard, who was the former treasurer of an FN-linked group Cotelec, set up an account with Swiss bank UBS in 1981, the Mediapart website, which broke the Cahuzac story, said on Wednesday.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

In reacting to the Cahuzac scandal last week, Marine Le Pen called for the dissolution of parliament and early elections, presenting her party as the only clean organisation on France’s dirty political scene.

But her father was forced to admit Mediapart’s story was true, adding that it had been public knowledge since 1992, when the now defunct Evènement du jeudi published details of the account.

It was set up to obtain a loan for a record company that he ran, Le Pen claimed on Wednesday, because political hostility had made French banks unreceptive to his applications for funds.

Le Pen denied Mediapart’s allegations that two million francs (305,000 euros) had been placed in the account and accused the website’s employees of being “KGBists”, in a reference to the Soviet Union’s secret police.

Cotelec was a “microparty” set up to provide finance for the FN, raising 415,387 euros in 2007, when Jean-Marie Le Pen ran for the presidency.

Mouchard left it in 1997 but it still exists, under the control of Jean-Marie Le Pen, and continues to channel cash to the party that his daughter now leads.

During the 1990s Mouchard availed himself of the services of several offshore companies in Gibraltar and Panama, according to Mediapart, in a revelation similar to last week’s news of President François Hollande’s presidential campaign treasurer, Jean-Jacques Augier’s, overseas interests.

Le Monde has already claimed that Marine Le Pen was aware of Cahuzac’s Swiss account in 1992 because it was set up by one of her friends, Philippe Péninque.

Le Pen, who has been accused of tight-fistedness by some of his biographers, was forced to comment on his alleged Swiss bank accounts in 1997 when his estranged first wife, Pierrette Le Pen – Marine’s mother – publicly accused him of tax evasion.

In 1994 he was ordered to pay 1.4 million francs (214,000 euros) to the taxman for having “forgotten” to declare profits from investments and underestimating rent.

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