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Le Pen's far-right party reaches settlement on Russian bank debt: court

FILE PHOTO: Marine Le Pen, member of parliament and leader of French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party, delivers a speech during a debate on migration at the National Assembly in Paris, France, October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The National Rally, a French far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, has reached a court settlement with a Russian firm over its outstanding debts on a loan it took out in 2014, court documents showed.

Le Pen’s heavily indebted party took out the 9 million euro loan at the First Czech Russian Bank six years ago as it sought to raise financing in preparation for her 2017 presidential run. Western banks were rebuffing the party’s approaches, she said at the time.

The First Czech Russian Bank has since had its operating licence revoked because it held insufficient capital.

A Russian company called Aviazapchast, which specialises in the sale of aircraft parts, had acquired the claim to the National Rally loan, according to court documents. Aviazapchast filed a lawsuit against Le Pen’s party in December last year.

Documents published by the Moscow Arbitration Court on Sunday showed that the two parties reached a voluntary settlement agreement last week.

The court’s decision said Aviazapchast was withdrawing its demand for the early repayment of the entire loan, as well as some penalties imposed against the French party.

The court decision also outlined a timeline for the repayment of the debt in instalments until 2028.

Two French banks closed accounts belonging to Le Pen and her party six months after her election defeat to Emmanuel Macron. The banks said they had acted within regulatory requirements.

During her 2017 campaign, Le Pen, who has said she is an admirer of President Vladimir Putin, promised a softer line on Russia, urging the West to drop economic sanctions on Moscow.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Moscow and Richard Lough in Paris; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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