(CN) – Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen must reimburse the European Parliament for the cost of an assistant’s six-year employment, the EU General Court ruled Tuesday.
Parliament first called for the reimbursement while Le Pen was campaigning for the French presidency. On Dec. 5, 2016, order, the secretary-general of Parliament found that Le Pen owed it $347,000 because she failed to prove the effectiveness of an assistant whom she had employed as a local parliamentary assistant from 2010 to 2016.
Le Pen, who was a member of Parliament from 2009 to 2017, challenged the demand, but the Luxembourg-based General Court ruled against her Tuesday. A copy of the ruling is not available in English, but the court noted in a press release “that it is indeed for MEPs and not for the Parliament to prove that amounts received have been used to cover expenses actually incurred and arising wholly and exclusively from the employment of their assistants.”
“Ms. Le Pen has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her,” the press release continues. “She has not provided evidence of any activity whatsoever on the part of the parliamentary assistant that comes under parliamentary assistance, which she moreover acknowledged during the hearing. In particular, Ms Le Pen provided nothing proving that direct assistance was provided to her on the premises of the Parliament by her parliamentary assistant.”
The court emphasized that Le Pen could not even prove that the assistant had a presence on Parliament grounds. Even if he had, however, that would not be enough by itself to justify the cost of his employment.
“In addition, while Ms Le Pen asserts that her parliamentary assistant had an official and actual residence at the residence of one of her friends in Brussels, it is a pure assertion as she produces no evidence capable of supporting her claims,” the press release also states.
This past March, the European General Court also ordered Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to reimburse $400,000 that was spent on his assistant.
Le Pen’s father has been a member of the European Parliament since 1984.
He also led the French political party National Front from its founding in 1972 to 2011 when daughter Marine Le Pen took the reins.
Marine Le Pen renamed the party National Rally on March 11, 2018 — just over a week after French prosecutors brought charges against her for tweeting images of executions carried out by members of the Islamic State group.