French far-right leader says party bank closes accounts

PARIS – Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Front in France, said on Wednesday that the party's long-running bank, Societe Generale, has closed its accounts in what he said amounts to a "bank fatwa" to stifle the party.

Le Pen said at a press conference on Wednesday that the measure is purely political and endangers the democratic process. He said that a lawsuit would be filed against Societe Generale, one of the largest banks in France, and against HSBC, his personal bank, which also supposedly excluded it.

Societe Generale denied in a statement that the closure of the National Front accounts were political, saying that such movements "depend purely on banking reasons". He gave no reason for the closure of the match account and related accounts.

Le Pen refused to disclose how much money was in the accounts, which she said included those from around 15 National Front federations around France.

What Le Pen called the "banishment" of its banking system party is the latest in a multitude of financial, judicial and political problems for the National Front, which was rejected to campaign for the French and legislative elections this year.

Le Pen lost the May presidential election to centrist Emmanuel Macron, with whom he raised the banking issue during a meeting this week eceived party leaders.

The National Front was able to reopen an old account at Credit du Nord bank, a subsidiary of Societe Generale. However, he is deprived of checks, members and supporters can not pay dues or donations at the party site and can not make automatic withdrawals, such as to pay officials, said Le Pen.

Such measures have altered "normality". the operation of a party … ", said Le Pen." We are in the presence of an attempted suffocation of an opposition movement. "

The National Front was harshly criticized for requesting foreign loans, especially in Russia, this year when Le Pen campaigned, after receiving 9 million euros (currently $ 10.6 million) in 2014 from a Czech-Russian bank that finally collapsed.

Le Pen and others in the party are also being investigated for allegedly abusing the salaries of the badistants in the European Parliament Other investigations that involve funds of the party are closing around a handful of officials of the National Front.

The profile of Le Pen has diminished in the political front after having been one of the first in the presidential race, his party did not get enough legislators in the June legislative race to form a group, which means that its eight deputies, including Le P in, they have little weight.

Le Pen said on Wednesday that the National Front was being persecuted and that, more broadly, "financial oligarchies" could become decisive in politics.

If the nation becomes accustomed to "banning fatwas," he said, they can be used "to pressure the parties, companies or elected officials." Then, French democracy is over. "

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press All rights reserved This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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