French Le Pen obtained a loan from a Hungarian bank close to Orban’s deposit

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) party and candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, visits the 58th International Agricultural Show (Salon de l’Agriculture) at the Parc des Expositions in the Porte de Versailles in Paris, France, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

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PARIS, March 10 (Reuters) – France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has received a 10.7 million euro ($11.8 million) campaign loan from Hungarian bank MKB, whose main shareholders are businessmen close to nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The personal loan was disclosed on a form that presidential candidates must submit to regulators regarding their personal assets and debts, and was made public this week.

Le Pen and her National Rally (RN) party have for years struggled to secure loans from French banks, even as she has sought to de-demonize a party seen under the leadership of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as racist and xenophobic. .

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“This loan was obtained in a very difficult context of tightening campaign finance rules and the reluctance of banks to finance the democratic life of our country,” RN President Jordan Bardella wrote to party officials when the details of the A loan from a then undisclosed European bank emerged last month.

MKB, Budapest’s public bank and savings group Takarekbank sealed a merger in 2020 to form Hungary’s second-largest banking group. MKB and the Hungarian government did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Calls to Le Pen’s spokesperson went unanswered.

Le Pen has long sought a broader alliance of European far-right movements and has visited Orban in Hungary on several occasions. The two men last met in Madrid in January, and in October Le Pen hailed the Hungarian leader’s “courage” in the face of the “ideological brutality” of the European Union.

In 2017, Le Pen said he was the victim of a “banking fatwa” in France after two banks, Société Générale and Crédit du Nord, closed accounts belonging to him and his party. The banks said at the time that they had acted within regulatory requirements, but gave no further details.

His party came under scrutiny during the 2017 presidential campaign for a 9 million euro ($9.95 million) loan he received in 2014 from a Russian bank today. now disappeared. At the time the party was called the National Front.

Le Pen sits in second place and is the favorite to face the frontrunner, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, in the second round of elections next month.

($1 = 0.9046 euros)

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Reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest and Richard Lough in Paris, editing by Mark Heinrich

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Dorothy H. Lewis