Marine Le Pen to meet judges over party funding claims

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Marine Le Pen to meet judges over party funding claims

Paris (AFP) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen told AFP Thursday she had arranged to meet investigating magistrates over claims her party misused European Parliament funds to pay for staff in France.

"The meeting has already been arranged," said Le Pen, who had refused to answer any questions over the accusations while she was running in this year's presidential election. She refused to say when the meeting would take place.

Her partner Louis Aliot, who is vice president of her National Front (FN) party, had earlier Thursday refused to abide by a police summons over the same accusations.

Le Pen, who lost the election in May to new President Emmanuel Macron, won a seat in the French parliament for the first time last weekend.

Until then she was one of 17 FN lawmakers in the European Parliament, who also include her father, the party's co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The party has been under investigation since 2015 over how it paid around 40 assistants.

The European Parliament says up to five million euros ($5.6 million) could have been wrongly used to pay staff working on party issues in France, after previously estimating the figure at up to 1.9 million euros.

Le Pen had previously argued in March that she enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a European lawmaker.

She refused to meet magistrates ahead of possible charges for abuse of confidence over the salary of her long-serving personal aide Catherine Griset, who herself has been charged.