French central bank okays closure of Le Pen accounts

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Head of far-right Front National accused banks of 'banking fatwa' after Société Générale and Crédit du Nord shut down her party's accounts.

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She claims political persecution, but the Bank of France ruled Tuesday that the closure of Marine Le Pen’s personal bank account and those of her National Front party did not violate regulations. Le Pen has vowed to fight on, reports FRANCE 24.

Her party’s fortunes have been falling ever since her loss to Emmanuel Macron in May’s presidential elections, but Le Pen hit a new low last week when Société Générale and its Crédit du Nord subsidiary shut down the bank accounts of her far-right National Front party. To add insult to injury, HSBC also shuttered her personal account.

Ever pugnacious, Le Pen accused the financial institutions of launching a “banking fatwa” against her. The banks didn’t explain why they shut the accounts, simply stating that they were complying with regulations.

In response, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire asked the central Bank of France to examine whether the law had been complied with. On Tuesday, the Bank of France ruled that it had.

“The closure of the National Front’s accounts by the banks does not appear to reflect wrongdoing vis-à-vis their regulatory obligations, and leaves no reason to believe they acted with discrimination,” it said on Tuesday.

The Bank of France revealed that the National Front had held 16 accounts with Société Générale until September 25, as well as a deposit account with Crédit du Nord on which two months' notice was given in late October.

Le Pen rejected the ruling and vowed to take the fight to court, alleging discrimination.

She had earlier said that without functioning bank accounts, her party was shackled.

"After being the victim of massive judicial persecution, we are witnessing a new stage in the persecution of the National Front – banishment from banking," Le Pen told a press conference last Wednesday. “This is an attempt to suffocate an opposition party, and no democrat should accept that.”

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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