- Title: France's Fillon and his wife questioned in 'fake work' probe
- Date: 30th January 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (JANUARY 29, 2017) (REUTERS) CROWD CHEERING PARIS, FRANCE (JANUARY 30, 2017) (REUTERS) COURT BUILDING SIGN FOR COURT POLICE VEHICLE PARKED OUTSIDE COURT VARIOUS OF POLICE INSIDE COURT COURT BUILDING
- Embargoed: 13th February 2017 17:38
- Keywords: Francois Fillon Penelope wife salary elections presidential
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002619XGSN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French presidential candidate Francois Fillon and his wife are being questioned by investigators as part of a probe into allegations that Penelope Fillon was paid for fake jobs, a source close to the case said on Monday (January 30).
Francois Fillon, who has denied any wrongdoing, had said after the probe was opened last week that he wanted to be heard by the investigators. Such questioning is a normal step in a preliminary probe and not a sign of culpability.
The financial prosecutor's office, Fillon's lawyer and his staff were not immediately available for comment on the case, which is sapping the popularity of the former conservative prime minister and could shake up the April-May presidential contest.
Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine reported last week that Penelope Fillon had been paid 500,000 euros ($534,000)from state funds as a parliamentary assistant to her husband and his successor but that it could find no proof of her having actually done any work.
Fillon's spokesperson Thierry Solere said the judicial probe into the ex-prime minister was unprecedented.
"I repeat, this is a man who spent 30 years of his political life without ever being called into question over anything. He worked with his wife, who is involved in his local political life. Of course she was an elected Sarthe official. As for the rest, you must respect the law. Francois Fillon has respected the law everyday for the past 30 years," Solere told France Info radio.
Fillon, until now the clear favourite to win the two-round election, has said his wife's work was real, and says he is the victim of a smear campaign. He is facing an increasingly tight race against centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right party leader Marine Le Pen.
French parliament member Eric Ciotti told RTL radio he had always seen Penelope Fillon by her husband's side, but declined to answer whether he knew she had an official post as his assistant in parliament.
The probe so far is only a preliminary investigation, the first step in the judicial process. The conservative former prime minister has said he would abandon his presidential bid if placed under formal criminal investigation.
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