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France

Police raid Le Pen party HQ in European fake jobs inquiry

media Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen Reuters/Robert Pratta

French investigators probing an alleged fake jobs scam by the National Front raided the far-right party's headquarters near Paris on Monday. The raid is the second in a year.

"For the second time, a raid took place at the same offices, over the same allegations, which confirms that the first raid amounted to nothing," the National Front (FN) said in a statement.

Investigators wish to determine whether the FN used European Parliament funds to pay for 20 of its members officially employed as parliamentary aides while continuing to work for the party elsewhere.

The group accused investigators acting for the Paris prosecutor's office of a "media stunt" designed to disrupt the presidential campaign of FN leader Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen denies fraud claims

Le Pen, who has led the anti-EU party since 2011, is a member of the European Parliament, which accuses her of defrauding it of nearly 340,000 euros.

She is riding high in polls ahead of the two-stage presidential election on 23 April and 7 May election and has denied the claims, describing the investigation as a vendetta against her.

According to a report by the European anti-fraud office Olaf, leaked last week, the parliament paid 41,554 euros towards a contract for Le Pen's bodyguard Thierry Légier, who was falsely presented as a parliamentary assistant.

Polls currently show Le Pen winning the first round of the election but failing to garner the more than 50 percent of votes needed for victory in the second round.

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