Opened the former Front National’s appeals process in the case of campaign packages
The former Front National’s appeal process in the case of the FN campaign kit for the 2012 general election opened in Paris on Monday in the presence of six of the seven accused, executives or former executives of the RN or even close to Marine Le Pen.
In the first instance, the FN (which has since become Rassemblement National) was largely acquitted of allegations of fraud against the state in financing the 2012 parliamentary elections.
The public prosecutor’s office had appealed against the judgment of the correctional court “on all the accused”.
The appeal process is scheduled to last until October 19.
The three legal entities involved, including the National Rallye, were all represented by counsel before the Court of Appeal.
“I deny my guilt,” repeated the five defendants in court, who had been sentenced in the first instance to prison terms of between two and a half years and up to six months with partial or full probation.
Axel Loustau, the only defendant to be fully acquitted at first instance, asked the court to “take the same decision” as the Paris Criminal Court in June 2020.
At the heart of the filing are campaign packages of leaflets, posters, a website and accounting services sold by the Jeanne Association, Marine Le Pen’s micro-party, to FN candidates for €16,650 and provided by communications company Riwal, led by Frédéric Chatillon, a former president of Gud (Groupe Union Defense, far-right student organization), was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, including ten months and a fine of 250,000 euros.
For prosecutors, this system concealed overstated benefits to deceive the state, which reimburses the costs of candidates who exceed 5% of the vote.
The state had demanded 11.6 million euros from the party, the sum of its own campaign costs, which it had reimbursed.
In the first instance, the court had acquitted the FN of the allegation of fraud because it had found neither “fraudulent maneuvers” nor evidence of inflated prices behind the supply of these kits.
Without a “lender” requested by the party, the “bogus loan mechanism could not have come about,” judges of the Criminal Court assessed.
The court also stressed that “the facts seemed particularly serious” because they had damaged “citizens’ confidence in the functioning of political parties” and in “democracy”.
The FN had been fined €18,750 for “concealing misuse of company assets” – prosecutors had demanded €500,000 – for exploiting Riwal’s improper advantages, in particular the fictitious hiring of two elected officials, Nicolas Bay and David Rachline , the purchase of equipment and above all the granting of an interest-free loan of several million euros to the FN for three years.
Marine Le Pen’s micro-party, Jeanne, had been fined €300,000, half of which was on probation.
“The FN, a legalist party, has done absolutely nothing illegal,” his lawyer David Dassa-Le Deist said at Monday’s hearing, denouncing “a premeditated trial against a political party.”
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