* Le Pen implied election favourite had secret offshore
* Anonymous allegation surfaced online hours earlier
* Macron denies allegation, says "Le Pen is behind this"
* Polls before Sunday's runoff suggest Macron easily won TV
PARIS, May 4 French presidential candidate
Emmanuel Macron accused his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on
Thursday of spreading lies by suggesting he had an undisclosed
Macron's party said it was taking legal action after an
internet campaign suggested shortly before a televised debate
between the two candidates on Wednesday night that Macron had
concealed funds in a foreign tax haven. Macron himself denied
Campaigning on an anti-EU, anti-globalisation platform, Le
Pen has sought to portray the former investment banker and
economy minister as an out-of-touch member of an elite
responsible for France's ills: unemployment of around 10
percent, low growth, and a two-year spate of Islamist violence.
According to a snap opinion poll by Elabe for BFMTV, 63
percent of viewers found Macron the more convincing in
Wednesday's debate, reinforcing his status as favourite to win
An Ifop-Fiducial poll released on Wednesday put Macron 20
percentage points ahead of Le Pen in voting intentions, in line
with other recent surveys.
Official campaigning is required by law to end at midnight
on Friday before voters go to the polls on Sunday for the runoff
between the candidates who topped the first round two weeks ago.
French two-year bond yields fell 3 basis points to a
two-month low on Thursday, pointing to further relief on
financial markets that Le Pen had not gained ground with her
pledges to quit the euro currency, hold a referendum on leaving
the European Union, and print money to finance higher state
Macron has promised to stimulate growth with training
programmes and a relaxation of labour laws, while reducing state
"LE PEN IS BEHIND THIS"
At the end of Wednesday's heated debate, watched by 15
million people, Le Pen insinuated that her rival might hold an
"I've never had an account in any tax haven," Macron told
France Inter radio on Thursday. "Le Pen is behind this. She has
an internet army mobilising."
He said she had allies spreading "false information and
lies" who were "in certain cases linked to Russian interests".
Pressed about her remark during the debate, Le Pen told BFM
TV on Thursday that she had no proof Macron had an offshore
account, but did not want undisclosed funds to come to light
when it was too late.
Macron's campaign team said that, two hours before the
debate started, an anonymous account posted documents on an
Internet forum purporting to prove that Macron had an offshore
account, and the information was quickly distributed on Twitter.
"Emmanuel Macron is the target of a carefully orchestrated
attempt to destabilise him 48 hours before the end of the
campaign," his spokesman Sylvain Fort said in a statement.
"It's worth noting that this operation was taken up by Le
Pen in a curious manner during the debate ... Obviously all of
the necessary legal action will be taken and is already under
way." Fort did not indicate if this action was aimed at a
specific individual or group.
Macron's team released a screenshot of what it said was a
falsified signature on documents purportedly proving "Macron's
secret tax evasion" as well as a trail of tweets spreading the
Macron's team say his party ("En Marche!" or "Onwards!") has
been the target of a series of attempts to steal email
credentials since January.
Feike Hacquebord, a researcher with security firm Trend
Micro said last week that he had found evidence that it had been
targeted by a cyber espionage group linked by some experts to
the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.
Russia has denied involvement in attacks on Macron's
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Myriam Rivet and Emmanuel Jarry;
Editing by Kevin Liffey)