French judges have blocked the payment of more than £2 million in state subsidies to the far-Right party of Marine Le Pen, a move she described as a “death sentence” for the group.
Ms Le Pen’s National Rally, previously known as the National Front, had been expecting to receive €2.35 million on Monday, representing nearly half of the subsidy payments due to the party this year.
Political parties in France are entitled to state subsidies depending on their election results.
Judges have frozen the money as part of a long-running investigation into alleged misuse of European parliamentary funds by the anti-immigration party.
“The investigating judges are applying a death sentence by confiscating our public grant without a court judgement,” Ms Le Pen said.
Without the money, she said her party “will be dead by August.”
Sébastien Chenu, a National Rally MP, said: “We won’t be able to pay our staff, our rent, our financial obligations after about July 15.”
The European Parliament has accused Ms Le Pen and other party figures of fraudulently paying their staff in France with EU funds that were supposed to be spent only on European parliamentary assistants.
The party, which changed its name last month in an effort to distance itself from its racist and anti-Semitic image, has long suffered from financial problems.
In 2014 it took a loan from a Russian bank, saying it had been refused credit in France. Several banks, including France’s Société Générale and HSBC, refused to open accounts for the party last year.
Ms Le Pen said a “banking fatwa” was being enforced against her party in an effort to silence it.
The European Parliament is attempting to recover more than €7 million in funds earmarked for aides which it believes were instead paid to staff in France by Ms Le Pen and other MEPs from her party, including her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front.
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Ten people have been charged so far, including Ms Le Pen, who reached the second round of France’s presidential election last year before being defeated by Emmanuel Macron.
She and seven other National Front candidates subsequently won parliamentary seats.
The party has launched an urgent appeal for donations from members. Wallerand de Saint-Just, its treasurer, said a fund-raising website was being set up.