Le Pen’s far-right party reaches settlement on Russian bank debt (court)

FILE PHOTO: Marine Le Pen, Member of Parliament and leader of the French far-right Rassemblement national (Rassemblement national) party, delivers a speech during a debate on migration at the National Assembly in Paris, France, October 7, 2019 . REUTERS / Benoit Tessier

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Rassemblement National, a French far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, has reached a legal settlement with a Russian company over its unpaid debts on a loan it took out in 2014, according to court documents.

Le Pen’s heavily indebted party took out the € 9million loan to First Czech Russian Bank six years ago as it sought to raise funds for its 2017 presidential bid. Westerners were pushing back the party’s approaches, she said at the time.

The First Czech Russian Bank has since had its operating license revoked because it held insufficient capital.

A Russian company called Aviazapchast, which specializes in the sale of aircraft parts, had acquired the claim on the loan from the National Rally, according to court documents. Aviazapchast filed a complaint against Le Pen’s party in December last year.

Documents released by the Moscow Arbitration Tribunal on Sunday showed the two sides reached a voluntary settlement agreement last week.

The court ruling indicated that Aviazapchast was withdrawing its request for early repayment of the entire loan, as well as certain sanctions imposed on the French side.

The court decision also defined a timetable for the repayment of the debt in installments until 2028.

Two French banks closed accounts belonging to Le Pen and his party six months after his electoral defeat to Emmanuel Macron. Banks said they acted within regulatory requirements.

During his 2017 campaign, Le Pen, who said he was an admirer of President Vladimir Putin, pledged a softer line on Russia, urging the West to drop economic sanctions against Moscow.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Moscow and Richard Lough in Paris; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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