Paris (AFP)

Former MoDem MEP Sylvie Goulard was indicted on Friday for embezzling public funds in the case of allegedly fictitious jobs for MEPs' assistants, an investigation that cost her her place in the new European Commission.

Goulard, currently number three of the Bank of France, was indicted for "embezzlement of public funds" after her hearing at the Paris court, AFP learned from a judicial source.

Contacted by AFP, the Banque de France assured that "its function as vice-governor" of the monetary institution was "not called into question" at this stage, invoking the "respect for the presumption of innocence ".

The former MEP (2009-2017) is one of about 15 people summoned since mid-November by the investigating judges of the tribunal's financial center, who are trying to determine whether parliamentary collaborators have been paid by Parliament's funds. while they were actually assigned to other tasks for the centrist party.

MoDem chairman François Bayrou is summoned Friday.

Ms. Goulard is implicated in this case, particularly for the employment of one of her parliamentary assistants, Stéphane Thérou.

This summer, she had agreed to repay the European Parliament 45,000 euros, an amount corresponding to eight months salary of Mr Thérou, for which she could not provide "proof of work". On 30 August, the European Parliament closed the proceedings concerning it.

During her hearing at the Central Office for the fight against corruption and financial and tax offenses (Oclciff) in Nanterre on September 10, Ms. Goulard explained that she had recruited Mr. Thérou since his first term as MEP in 2009, on the advice of his predecessor, General Philippe Morillon, with whom he previously worked, according to a report of which AFP was aware.

- "Too confident" -

Then she explained that she had intended to leave it during her re-election and to have agreed with Mr. Thérou, who wanted to seek a job in the private sector, "on an amicable separation after a period of transition".

However, "I had not considered such a long transition period," she said, saying that she "may have been too confident" in "the promises he had made".

Investigations in progress, added to the controversy over services performed for an American think tank, have earned Ms. Goulard to be denied his appointment in the new European Commission.

The opening of a preliminary investigation by the Paris prosecutor's office in June 2017 had already led to his resignation from the post of Minister of the Armed Forces. Mr Bayrou (Justice) and Marielle de Sarnez (European Affairs) had also had to resign.

In this case, the first indictment, for "complicity in embezzlement of public funds" and "concealment" was pronounced on November 15 against the financial director of the centrist party, Alexandre Nardella. Former Minister of Justice Michel Mercier has also been indicted for "complicity in embezzlement of public funds".

On Wednesday, the president of the MoDem had relativized these lawsuits. "Everyone is indicted or pretty much in French politics," he said on RMC and BFMTV.

"It's not because you're accused of something that's true," he defended, explaining that the collaborators worked "part-time" for the MoDem and "were paid for a fraction of time by the European Parliament and the other half of the time by (the) movement ". "What is wrong with that?" He asked, blaming the case on "slanderers".

The MoDem is not the only political formation in the lens of justice for supposedly fictitious jobs in the European Parliament. Similar investigations have thus been opened for France Insoumise (LFI) and for the National Front (FN), in which about twenty people, including Marine Le Pen, have been indicted.

© 2019 AFP