Macron Files Defamation Complaint Against Le Pen Over Offshore Account ‘Fake News’

Macron and Le Pen
A combination picture shows portraits of the candidates who will run in the second round in the 2017 French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader. Pictures taken March 11, 2017 (R) and February 21, 2017 (L). Macron has filed a defamation complaint against his far-right rival after she accused him of having an offshore account. Christian Hartmann/Reuters

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has filed a defamation complaint against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen after the National Front (NF) candidate accused him of having an offshore account.

The former Rothschild investment banker, who is favourite to win Sunday’s election, filed the complaint after Le Pen made a reference to rumors circulating online that Macron had placed funds in an offshore account in the Bahamas, AFP reported.

"I hope that we will not find out that you have an offshore account in the Bahamas," she said during a bruising presidential debate on Wednesday that was watched by 16.5 million viewers.

Read More: French Election: Emmanuel Macron pulls ahead of rival Marine Le Pen After Insult-Filled Debate

French prosecutors launched a probe into the accusations after the 39-year-old centrist candidate described Le Pen’s leading statements as defamatory.

The campaign team for his independent En Marche! Party pounced on the right winger's statements calling them a "textbook case" of "fake news," adding to the false information that began circulating online two hours before the debate started.

Le Monde reported that the rumors referencing a Macron offshore account originated on the online forum 4Chan, popular with supporters of the alternative right or alt-right movement.

An anonymous user posted two documents purportedly from an offshore company “La Providence” in the Caribbean, bearing Macron’s signature. His campaign dismissed the papers as an "outrageous falsification."

Le Pen, 48, later admitted on the French television channel BFMTV that she had no hard evidence to support what she had implied during the debate. At a campaign stop in the western town of Dol-de-Bretagne she said that the comments helped her succeed in her goal of annoying Macron.

According to a poll by the Elabe group, 63 percent of those interviewed in the immediate aftermath of the debate found Macron more convincing, versus 34 percent siding with Le Pen, AFP reported.

With the election just two days away latest polls suggest a win for the pro-EU Macron. The former Minister of Economy is predicted to garner around 62 percent of the vote, with Le Pen on 38 percent.