French elections: François Fillon under formal investigation

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16 March, 2017

PARIS-French prosecutors have filed preliminary charges against presidential candidate François Fillon for using public funds to finance phony jobs for his family, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Prosecutors say he was also charged [Bloomberg report] with complicity in the misusing company assets and failure to comply with transparency rules.

Fillon's summons to appear in front of judges in their office was expected to take place on Wednesday, but his lawyer said it had been brought forward.

He has denied wrongdoing and vowed to continue his campaign.

In February, Fillon said that if judges found enough evidence to formally put him under investigation, he would pull out of the presidential race. "It is a step toward a trial but investigations can be dropped without proceeding to court".

The weekly claimed, citing pay slips, that Fillon had paid about €1 million ($1.08 million) out of public funds to his wife and two children as parliamentary assistant and legal consultants, respectively. "There's no point in talking about authority when one's not beyond reproach", he said while running for the conservative nomination.

The inquiry has to clarify whether Fillon received the suits in a private capacity or whether the gifts were related to his mandate.

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Francois Fillon is being investigated over suspicions he arranged for his wife Penelope, left, to be paid public money for wok she did not carry out.

The independent centrist candidate is categorically not involved in the investigation. Ahead of him are Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pin.

And earlier this month, the legislative body stripped Le Pen of parliamentary immunity for tweeting graphic images of violence perpetrated by Islamic State militants.

She has described the move as "part of the system that wants to stop the French people's candidate that I am".

Francois Fillon secured 44 per cent of the vote in the first Les Republicains primary Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy concedes defeat in French vote and backs Francois FillonWho is Francois Fillon?

Current polls show Macron and Le Pen are likely to reach the second round of the election.


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