...The party, then known as the National Front and now called the National Rally, was having difficulty securing credit from traditional French banks. Le Pen accused the banks of discrimination for refusing to offer a loan.
In search of money from a non-French bank, party officials turned to Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a member of the European Parliament elected as part of Le Pen’s party bloc.
Through what he described as work on a French-Russian development-bank project in 2004 or 2005, Schaffhauser said he met a Russian businessman and member of parliament named Alexander Babakov, who in 2012 became the Kremlin’s special envoy for Russian organizations abroad.
Schaffhauser, for his part, said he received 140,000 euros, or about $181,000 at the time, for brokering the loan. His fee was deposited in what he described as a family foundation. He said people close to Babakov, the Russian member of parliament and special envoy, also discussed investing in his think tank.
WaPo notes that the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy has conducted a study of the loan along with Washington think tank C4ADS.