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French prosecutor probes socialist Royal over funds use as ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Former French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal delivers a speech during the Paris Europlace International Financial Forum in Paris, France, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French financial prosecutors said on Wednesday they had opened a preliminary investigation into the use of funds by former environment minister Segolene Royal in her role as ambassador for the North and South Poles.

As ambassador for the Poles (the Arctic and Antarctica), Royal benefits from French foreign ministry funds.

Prosecutors told Reuters the investigation aims to check how Royal used the funds after media group franceinfo reported in November that they had been used to pay advisers who had no connection to her work as ambassador to the Poles.

Royal said in November that the franceinfo report contained “defamatory remarks” and “false evidence”.

“Nothing new,” Royal tweeted in response to Wednesday’s news, adding that she would say more on the issue later on Facebook.

Royal, a Socialist, was appointed as ambassador for the North and South Poles by France’s President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 at the beginning of his presidency.

Reporting by Simon Carraud; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Gareth Jones