The appeal trial of the case of the “campaign kits” of the 2012 legislative elections opens this Monday, September 19 in Paris for one month. In this case, three legal persons, including the former National Front, which became National Rally, as well as seven protagonists, senior party officials or relatives of Marine Le Pen had appeared, in particular for “fraud”, “abuse of corporate assets”. or “laundering”. In the first instance, the far-right party had been acquitted of the main charge of “scam”.
At the heart of this affair, which dates back to the 2012 legislative elections, there are “campaign kits”, made up of posters, leaflets or websites, systematically sold to each candidate of the National Front. via Jeanne, the micro-party of Marine Le Pen, and provided by Riwal, the communication company of one of his close advisers Frédéric Chatillon.
For the prosecution, this system, based on overvalued benefits, was intended to deceive the state, which reimburses the expenses of candidates when they exceed 5% of the vote.
A major financial challenge
In this “scam” part of the case, the far-right party plays big: the State is indeed asking him for 11.6 million eurosor the amount, according to him, of the electoral expenses reimbursed to the FN by public money.
But, during the judgment of first instance last June, the Paris correctional court had affirmed that it had not found ” fraudulent maneuvers nor evidence of overcharging for “campaign kits”. So released from the main charge of “fraud”, the former National Front had however been sentenced in a sub-part of the case to a fine of some 19,000 euros for “concealment of misuse of corporate assets”. The judges considered that the party had received undue advantages from the Riwal company, in particular an interest-free loan of several million euros as well as the fictitious employment of two of its senior executives at the time.
The prosecution, as well as all the defendants, had appealed. What is at stake in this new trial is important for the former FN, because a conviction on the “fraud” side could seriously jeopardize its finances.