French far-right chief says party's bank shuts down accounts

HSBC closes Marine Le Pen bank account

Marine Le Pen has accused banks of a "fatwa" against herself and the National Front on Wednesday.

Her claim of "judicial persecution" was a reference to the decision by parliament earlier this month to strip her of immunity from prosecution for tweeting pictures of atrocities committed by the Islamic State group. She would also file a complaint against HSBC over closure of a personal account of hers.

HSBC shut down a bank account Le Pen has held for 25 years just a day after Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank, asked the Front National to close all its accounts after a 30-year relationship. HSBC and Societe Generale have neither confirmed nor denied closing the accounts, citing banking confidentiality, according to Reuters. Le Pen was a client with the Hervet bank until its take over by an HSBC subsidiary in 2001.

The party said that it had appealed to the Bank of France, the central bank, which had ordered another bank, Crédit du Nord, to open...

Le Pen, who lost the presidential run-off to Emmanuel Macron in May, accused "financial oligarchies" of trying to "suffocate" the political opposition and democracy.

Le Pen repeatedly complained during the election campaign that the FN had been refused loans by both French and foreign banks.

But party officials say there are now heavy restrictions on its financing. Mael de Calan, a contender for the leadership of the Republicans, a conservative party, told BFM TV he was shocked a bank would ask a political party to close its accounts.

She blasted Societe Generale's decision as a politically motivated measure against a party which has "tens of millions of members, stable resources and no problems with our accounts whatsoever". However, it is deprived of check books, members and supporters are unable to pay dues or donations on the party site and it can not make automatic withdrawals, such as to pay officials, Le Pen said.

FN party founder and Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, said in June that the party had funded its campaigns thanks to €9 million he had lent via his Cotelec financing company.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the FN had the right to operate a normal bank account, adding: "There is no question of there being different treatment for different parties".

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