Front National on the Defensive Over European Parliament Fraud Probe

Front National
France's Front National political party head Marine Le Pen speaks during a news conference at the party headquarters in Nanterre near Paris February 6, 2015. Charles Platiau/REUTERS

The European parliament have called on the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, to investigate the French National party over concerns that 20 parliamentary assistants who are being paid using European parliament funds are in fact working for Front National in France on tasks unrelated to the assembly.

The far-right party, headed by Marine Le Pen, has 20 employees listed on the European Parliament payroll as lawmakers' assistants to MEPs, yet the party organigramme and party documents appear to show the employees work exclusively for the Front National.

Mr Schulz became aware of the discrepancy and notified OLAF yesterday as well as informing the French minister of justice Christiane Taubira. He also gave a statement in Strasbourg today.

French newspaper Le Monde reported that the fraudulent payments totalled €7.5 million. Wages paid by the European Parliament are ultimately sourced from public money.

Mr Schulz today said: "For us there is the question: What is the statute of those people? Do they work on a full time contract and are paid by the European Parliament or are they actually working at the headquarters of the party?

"There are a certain number of parliamentary assistants that indicate the address of the Front National."

He added: "You cannot be paid by the European Parliament and work for a party group."

However, Marine Le Pen took to Twitter in retaliation to the claims, appealing to French prime minister Manuel Valls and accusing Mr Schulz of "mobilising his socialist friends" against the Front National.

.@manuelvalls mobilise ses amis socialistes contre le @FN_officiel : le président du Parlement européen sort la grosse caisse. 1/2

— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) March 9, 2015

She added: "An official complaint will be lodged against him for this false accusation."

Une plainte sera déposée contre lui pour dénonciation calomnieuse. 2/2 #TweetPrécédent MLP

— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) March 9, 2015

Front National's vice president Florian Philippot also denounced the case as "bogus" and tweeted that "Schulz is right... our assistants do not work for the European Union but against it!"

Dans le fond, Schultz a raison...Nos assistants ne travaillent pas pour l'Union Européenne mais contre elle !

— Florian Philippot (@f_philippot) March 9, 2015

Ludovic de Danne, an advisor to Marine Le Pen, says: "We are attacking Schulz about this defamation."

Mr Schulz said the European Parliament have dealt with this case "as with any other case" and defended his actions as "purely administrative".

If found guilty, the Le Pen's party could face serious repercussions. In 2011, Ukip MEP Tom Wise was jailed for two years for fraudulently claiming £39,000 of parliamentary expenses.

Newsweek contacted OLAF for comment but did not receive a response.