PARIS (AP) — The Paris prosecutor’s office says it has opened an investigation into 19 French members of the European Parliament after a colleague claimed they used aides for political activity in France while they were on the parliament’s payroll.
The office said Tuesday that, in addition to the lawmakers, more than 20 parliamentary aides are under investigation for allegedly receiving money through an alleged breach of trust.
The office would not name any of the targets of the probe.
It confirmed that French Minister for European Affairs Marielle de Sarnez has filed a slander complaint against the European Parliament member who made the claims and belongs to France’s far-right National Front party.
Several National Front members have been under a similar investigation for allegedly cheating the European Parliament out of about 300,000 euros ($336,000) paid to aides.
Meanwhile, another government minister faced growing pressure on Tuesday for business practices that carried undertones of potential conflicts of interest.
Weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaine reported last week that an insurance company struck a rental deal with a company owned by Social Cohesion Minister Richard Ferrand’s romantic partner when he led the firm.
A report published in the Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday said the insurance company had contracts with both Ferrand’s ex-wife and his current companion. The newspaper also reported that Ferrand advocated for a bill advantageous to insurance companies in 2012, when he was a lawmaker.
Ferrand denied any wrongdoing in a statement Tuesday. The allegations are not being investigated by any legal authorities in France.
Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to clean up French politics. A law to prohibit politicians from hiring family members is to be formally presented to parliament next week.
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