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France's Le Pen slams banks over account closures

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France's Le Pen slams banks over account closures

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PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, smarting from defeat in a presidential election where she denounced banks for refusing her campaign loans, accused her bankers on Tuesday of “persecution” after they moved to close down her and her party’s accounts. The 49-year-old, who is also struggling with feuding in her party after May’s election loss to Emmanuel Macron, accused the head of HSBC France’s retail banking business of shutting an account she had held for 25 years. HSBC did not immediately respond to calls from Reuters for comment. Societe Generale bank said on Tuesday it had not broken any rules when news reports first emerged that it was moving to shut National Front party accounts. Le Pen said in a Twitter message the banks were not only moving to close her party’s accounts but also a private account she held. “This persecution by the banks is getting personal,” she said. Le Pen said she would play a phone conversation with a banker at a news conference at 1030 GMT. The National Front spent 12.5 million euros (11.09 million pounds)on the presidential election alone, where some blame Marine Le Pen’s defeat by Emmanuel Macron on opposition to the euro and her pledge to restore the French franc. Party supporters have since been asked in an online campaign to directly lend it money. FN treasurer Wallerand de Saint Just told Reuters Societe Generale had closed the accounts the party held there on Nov.10. In France, banks are allowed to unilaterally decide to close accounts, with advance notice, and don’t have to say why. But holding an account is a right and one can ask the Bank of France to designate a bank that would be forced to open one.

(Reporting by Brian Love, Simon Carraud and Ingrid Melander; editing by Ralph Boulton)
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