France investigates a UAE loan to a far-right party

The French judiciary is investigating an €8 million loan paid via a bank based in the United Arab Emirates to the French far-right National Rally party, Mediapart has revealed.

Formerly known as the National Front, the party is led by Marine Le Pen. The loan, said the investigative journal, apparently bailed out the party after the 2017 elections.

In October 2019, Mediapart revealed that the loan came from French businessman Laurent Foucher. who has a range of commercial interests in Africa. It pointed out that it was transferred from a bank in the UAE but questions still remain over the source of the money.

Although the party repaid the loan in March 2018, further questions have been raised about payments to the broker involved, former National Front Member of the European Parliament, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser.

According to Mediapart, in December 2019 the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office received information from the Anti-Corruption Agency. The prosecutors then attached agency officials to the preliminary investigation underway since 2016 into the commissions received by Schaffhauser for the two loans he helped secure for the National Front: a Russian loan of €9.6 million in 2014 and the later loan in 2017.

A National Front official told Mediapart that the party had obtained the loan “under clear and legal circumstances,” and denied paying a direct commission to Schaffhauser.

In October 2016, Mediapart published an investigative report about the UAE’s influence over Marine Le Pen. It explained that in July 2014 Le Pen met with representative of the UAE who offered “to help her party”, and that in May the following year Le Pen’s trip to Egypt was “funded by the United Arab Emirates”.

UAE receives first shipment of Israel settlement goods

In another context, the UAE received the first shipment from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank a few days ago.

The first shipment from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were exported to the UAE on January 10, 2021, local media reported.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the shipment included olive oil and honey from the Tura Winery in the Rehelim settlement and Paradise Honey in the Hermesh settlement.

“This is a historic day for Samaria [the occupied West Bank] and the entire State of Israel,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan was reported by the Jerusalem Post saying.

On 10 December, Dagan wrote on his Facebook page that he had signed four direct export deals between settlements in the occupied West Bank and companies in the UAE.

Slamming the move, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said the move “is tantamount to encouraging Zionist settlement building on the occupied Palestinian lands.”

All settlements are considered illegal by international law, with the UN and other international bodies repeatedly stressing that they hinder the peace process.