The Paris Court of Appeal on Wednesday confirmed the acquittal of the National Rally (RN) for fraud at the expense of the State in the case of its 2012 “campaign kits” but sentenced it to a fine of 250,000 euros for concealment of misuse of corporate assets.

The judges also released the RN from two of the four charges of concealment of misuse of corporate assets for which he had been sentenced at first instance to a fine of 18,750 euros.

Marine Le Pen’s party was suspected of having overcharged “campaign kits” sold to its candidates in the 2012 legislative elections to deceive the state, which reimburses the expenses of those who win more than 5% of the vote.

“The National Front (former name of the RN, editor’s note) is guilty of two acts of concealment of misuse of corporate assets, under the assumption by the company Riwal of a supplier credit for several years and salaries paid for two collaborators, Nicolas Bay and David Rachline”, indicated the court of appeal in its judgment consulted by AFP.

A former RN MEP, Nicolas Bay has joined the ranks of Reconquest!, the far-right party of Eric Zemmour. David Rachline is RN mayor of Fréjus.

“These facts reveal criminal relations between the party and one of its suppliers, for several years and constitute a circumvention of the rules of financing of political parties”, underlined the judges.

“The seriousness of these facts results in particular from the attack on citizens’ confidence in political parties, which have a central role in the functioning of democracy”, they underlined.

The court justified the fine of 250,000 euros imposed on the RN by explaining that it was “adapted to the seriousness of the acts committed and the financial situation of this political party”.

The RN has not ruled out filing an appeal in cassation against this decision.

“If, for one of the proceedings, the court raises the fine imposed on the RN, it is for legal reasons contrary to those of the court, they may be submitted to the court of cassation”, indicated the party in a statement. communicated.

Marine Le Pen’s party denounced “what was a criminal prosecution devoid of any factual and legal basis and, therefore, exclusively dictated by partisan motives”.

During the appeal trial, the public prosecutor’s office had requested a fine of 500,000 euros against the RN.

Believing to have been the victim of fraud, the State claimed 11.6 million euros in damages from the RN and the defendants. The court dismissed this request.

“From the start, it was clear to anyone in good faith that there had never been the slightest desire to misappropriate public funds,” said the RN.

In total, three legal persons – the RN, the micro-party Jeanne, the communication company Riwal – and seven relatives of Marine Le Pen were tried on appeal for fraud at the expense of the State, abuse of corporate assets, breach of trust , concealment and money laundering.

At the heart of the file, “campaign kits”, the turnkey electoral material used by the FN candidates for the 2012 legislative elections, made up of leaflets, “personalized” posters, a website and even services for submit accounts in good standing to the institution responsible for verifying the financing of political parties (CNCCFP).

These “kits” were sold for 16,650 euros to candidates by the Jeanne association, the micro-party of Marine Le Pen, and provided by the Riwal company, headed by Frédéric Chatillon, a former president of the GUD (Groupe union defense, student organization of ‘far right).

As in the first instance, Frédéric Chatillon was sentenced to a fine of 250,000 euros and two and a half years in prison, including ten months firm which can be accomplished under an electronic bracelet.

Apart from the heavier penalty imposed on the RN, the court generally confirmed the judgment of first instance of the Paris court for the rest of the defendants.

03/15/2023 14:51:04 –         Paris (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP