November 25, 2017 / 11:00 AM / 22 days ago

French minister believes banks had 'good reasons' to close National Front accounts

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday he believed the banks that closed the accounts of far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and her party had good reasons to do so.

But Le Maire also told France Inter radio that he had asked the central Bank of France to look into whether the law had been complied with and that its governor would release his conclusions on Monday.

Le Pen earlier this week accused two banks -- Societe Generale and HSBC -- of launching a “banking fatwa” to silence her National Front party by closing bank accounts belonging to her and her party.

The banks said they had acted within regulatory requirements but declined to offer fuller explanations.

“If Societe Generale closes the accounts of the National Front, and also I point out that another bank closed the personal account of Marine Le Pen, it’s because it had good reasons to do so. I trust French banking institutions,” Le Maire said.

“My duty as economy and finance Minister is to verify the law has been complied with. So I asked the Bank of France.... I am convinced that the law has been complied with and that these banks had good reasons to take these decisions.”

Le Pen was defeated in this year’s presidential election and her party fared poorly in parliamentary elections. She has accused French banks of being politically biased for not lending to her campaigns.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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