According to French media reports, investigators have raided France’s conservative Presidential candidate, Francois Fillon’s Paris home.
The search is part of an investigation that a fake job was given to his wife, although he denies any wrongdoing. The police went in to find information related to that probe; no details were provided by them about the nature of the raid.
There has been growing pressure on Mr. Fillon to step down, but he has vowed to continue his presidential campaign.
After the emergence of the scandal, his poll ratings have dropped significantly; he was once seen as a favorite to win the election.
The primary focus of the allegations circling the Fillon family is his British-born wife, Penelope Clarke, who is also facing an investigation.
The newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine alleged that she received €831,400 ($900,000) for working as a parliamentary secretary over a couple of years for Mr. Fillon and his successor. She didn’t have a parliamentary pass which raised suspicion whether she actually did the work she was paid for.
Mr. Fillon said earlier on Wednesday that he had been summoned to appear before the judge over the case. He claimed that he was the victim of “political assassination” and vowed to continue his presidential campaign, despite previous pledges that he will step down in case a formal investigation is undertaken.
Many of his key allies, including deputy campaign director and foreign affairs spokesman resigned after the announcement.
The raid on Thursday morning occurred when the candidate was visiting winegrowers in southern France. The search reports were revealed to the French media by a number of sources, including a campaign staff.
Last month, Mr. Fillon’s parliamentary office was also searched.
Senior Republicans are making concerted efforts to gather support for ex-Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, who was defeated by Mr. Fillon in the primaries.
Thousands of supporters turned out on Thursday evening to his rally in the town of Nimes. This is what he said to the cheering crowd:
“You have a fighter before you. I have no intention of giving in.”
Mr. Fillon will appear in court on March 15, just two days before the deadline to submit the final applications by the candidates.
The first round of elections will take place on April 23, with a run-off on May 7. Now with Mr. Fillon’s ratings down, Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front candidate, is expected to win the first round, despite facing fake jobs scandal of her own.