France charges 2nd person tied to National Front in probe

Marine Le Pen, French far-right 2017 presidential candidate of the Front National party, participates to the Construction Forum debate "Reinvest France" ("Reinvestissons la France") at Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS — French prosecutors have issued preliminary charges against a contractor for the far-right National Front party who's close to its presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, in an investigation into financing political campaigns in 2014 and 2015.

The Paris' prosecutor's office confirmed Saturday that Frederic Chatillon was charged with "misuse of company assets" on Feb. 15. Chatillon heads a company that works for Le Pen's National Front party.

These are the first charges in the investigation that began in October.

The revelation comes days after a top aide to Le Pen, Catherine Griset, was charged with receiving money through a breach of trust in a second, separate probe into the National Front. In that probe investigators suspect that party members used legislative aides for the party's political activities while they on the European Parliament payroll.

The National Front denies wrongdoing.

Le Pen dismissed the payroll probe earlier this week as "political maneuvering" during an election season.

Le Pen has moved ahead of conservative candidate Francois Fillon in the polls for France's two-round, April 23-May 7 presidential election after a scandal erupted around Fillon for giving allegedly fake parliamentary aide jobs to his wife and two children.

Centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has also gained ground in a diverse race that includes Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon and firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon.

The two candidates that win the most votes on April 23 go into a presidential runoff on May 7.

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