The wife of French presidential candidate and former Prime Minister François Fillon has been officially placed under investigation over ‘fake job’s scandal that has undermined her husband’s presidential bid.
According to latest reports, Penelope Fillon has been charged with embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and aggravated fraud.
The so-called ‘fake jobs’ scandal erupted in January, when it was revealed that Fillon had paid his wife and two of their five children more than €900,000 for over 10 years to work as his parliamentary assistants.
The scandal has damaged Fillon’s popularity, and the conservative is trailing in the polls ever since. He was officially put under investigation two weeks ago, but decided not to withdraw from campaign, despite calls from his own party.
Fillon, a candidate representing France’s traditional right-wing Les Républicains party, has also been accused of receiving €48,000 of bespoke suits from a wealthy friend, as well as a €50,000 undeclared loan.
Both Fillon and his wife denied the allegations. Fillon was initially leading the polls and was seen reaching the run-off on May 7, but ‘fake jobs’ scandal involving his wife seriously damaged his prospects in the election.
The independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and Front National’s Marine Le Pen are currently leading the polls, and are expected to proceed to the run-off.
Members of the French Parliament are allowed to employ relatives if the jobs are real and work is done. After a preliminary investigation, French financial prosecutor decided to proceed with the inquiry, as he concluded there was enough doubt over whether Penelope Fillon’s job was “fictitious”.
Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images