Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: Arthur N. Orchard / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 18:25 p.m., September 19, 2023

Nine years after taking out a loan of 9.4 million euros from a Czech-Russian bank, the National Rally said Tuesday to have "repaid early its loan". The debt had been successively bought by Russian companies.

The National Rally said Tuesday it had "repaid early its loan", nine years after taking out a loan of 9.4 million euros from a Czech-Russian bank, whose debt had been successively bought by Russian companies. "The company Aviazapchast has notified the National Rally of the good receipt of the funds corresponding to the early repayment of the loan contract binding the two entities," the party said in a statement.

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He stresses having "honored the repayment of the balance of his loan for an amount of 6,088,784 euros, capital and interest included", more than five years before the maturity of December 2028. "The early repayment of the debt was possible without penalties, with payment of contractual interest until the day of the transfer," says the RN.

A loan taken out in 2014

In 2014, the far-right party took out a loan from a Czech-Russian bank, the First Czech-Russian Bank (FCBR), the French banks refusing, according to him, to lend him money. After the bank's bankruptcy, the debt was assigned to a Russian car rental company, Conti, and then sold in 2019 to Aviazapchast, a firm run by former Russian military personnel and specializing in spare parts for aircraft.

The latter had therefore sued the RN for "failure to repay". An amicable agreement was reached in June 2020 to reschedule this Russian loan over a period of eight years. But the Russian loan of the RN had become over the years as much the preferred angle of attack of its opponents as the Achilles' heel of the lepenites.

During the debate between the two rounds of the 2022 presidential election, two months after the invasion of Ukraine, President Emmanuel Macron had estimated that Marine Le Pen was talking "to (her) banker when she talks about Russia".

"Transmission belt"

The legislative elections of 2022 had made it possible to change the situation: by electing 88 deputies, the RN has replenished its coffers of about 5.2 million euros per year, as public financing of political parties. The party with the flame had also launched at the end of 2022 a parliamentary commission of inquiry into foreign interference, trying to cut short accusations that the party is an agent of Russian influence in France.

>> READ ALSO – The RN accused of "transmission belt" of the Russian power, a "dishonest report" for Marine Le Pen

In front of the commissioners, former MEP Jean-Luc Schaffahauser, mandated by Marine Le Pen to find financing, explained that after the refusal of "all Western banks" to grant a loan to the National Front, "we could only find on the Chinese side, Iran, or Russia: Marine Le Pen considered that Russia was the best". "It is obvious that if the power in place (Vladimir Putin, editor's note) was against it, the deal (of the loan) would not have been done."

"I don't sign a loan with Putin," Le Pen defended

"Me, I sign a loan with a bank, I do not sign a loan with Vladimir Putin," Marine Le Pen indirectly replied a few days later during her own hearing, explaining "if it had committed her to anything, she would not have signed." She also acknowledged that "it was that or death" of the party, at the time in great financial difficulty.

Without convincing: the Macronist rapporteur of the committee had qualified in her conclusions the FN (now RN) as a "transmission belt" of Russia, insisting on the "alignment" of the FN with the "Russian discourse" at the time of the "illegal annexation" of Crimea in 2014, which occurred shortly after the signing of the loan. Marine Le Pen then accused the report of "dishonest" and "politicised".