PARIS/MOSCOW Jan 5 France's far-right National
Front says it is scrambling to find funding to fight its 2017
presidential election campaign, accusing French banks of playing
politics by refusing to lend cash.
Marine Le Pen's National Front (FN) has borrowed about 6
million euros from her estranged father and party founder
Jean-Marie - an ironic twist since she threw him out of the
party, but a vital move now with her back to the wall over
At the same time, Russia has started legal proceedings to
recover a 9 million euro ($9.45 million) loan from the FN after
the bank the party borrowed from in 2014 had its licence
revoked. The impact this will have on the party's finances is
"We have additional funding to find. We'll find it," Marine
Le Pen told reporters. "It's half (of what we need), but we'll
find it," she said, adding that she was unfazed by this but
without giving further details.
"We'll end up finding it. We will find one bank somewhere in
the world that is willing to lend us that money," she said.
The FN said in December it needed 27 million euros for
presidential and parliamentary election campaigning.
The FN received the 9 million euro loan from First
Czech-Russian bank to cover other election campaigning costs.
But the bank later lost its licence to operate.
Potential Russian influence over western elections has
become a sensitive issue since U.S. intelligence agencies
accused their Russian counterparts of seeking to disrupt the
U.S. election through hacking and cyber attacks. Moscow has
denied the allegations.
There is a lot at stake for Le Pen, who has moderated her
party's image to broaden its appeal before the spring election
and who pollsters say has a good chance of getting through to
the runoff vote for the Elysee in May.
Asked by journalists recently if her party was knocking on
Russian banks' doors this time round too, Le Pen frankly
admitted she was scouring all corners for cash.
"I'm looking everywhere, including in the United States,
including in Britain, absolutely everywhere," she said.
Le Pen said that, unlike mainstream parties, the FN had not
managed to secure any loans from French banks. "French banks are
playing a political role," she said, suggesting her party was
being unjustly marginalised because of its far-right programme.
Le Pen has the support of around a quarter of French voters
according to opinion polls, but campaign funding for the
anti-immigrant and euro-sceptical party has long been an issue.
There is a funding ceiling that candidates in French
presidential elections cannot overshoot. In 2012 that was 16.85
million euros for candidates taking part in the first round and
21.51 million for those taking part in the second round.
FN Secretary General Nicolas Bay shared Le Pen's views on
the behaviour of French banks. "They are acting in an
anti-democratic way," he told reporters on Wednesday. "Democracy
would require banks to lend to all candidates."
Le Pen's party has struck a deal with her father for his
mini-party Cotelec to lend it some 6 million euros in tranches,
her campaign director David Rachline told Reuters at the end of
"The deal (on the loan) was concluded months ago," Rachline
said, without giving further details.
The split between Le Pen senior and his daughter, who took
the helm of the party in 2011, ended up with the father being
kicked out of the party in August last year.
As for the older loan, Russia's state Deposit Insurance
Agency told the RNS news agency in late December it had acquired
the right to recover the defunct bank's assets.
"Before the bank's operating license was revoked, the right
to claim under the credit agreement with the French National
Front party was ceded to a third party. Currently, this
transaction is being disputed in court," RNS quoted the agency
Reuters in Moscow could not reach the Deposit Insurance
Agency for comment.
(Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth)