Francois Fillon has been in politics for decades. After serving as a lawmaker, senator, and in a number of ministerial roles, he became France’s prime minister between 2007 and 2012 under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ahead of the 2017 presidential election, Francois Fillon won the center-right Republican party’s presidential primary, and in January 2017 was the clear front-runner in the polls.
However, his bid for the top job fell apart later that month.
Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical magazine, alleged that Penelope Fillon – formally employed as the politician’s parliamentary assistant for about six years in the 1990s and 2000s – never actually did her job. What is more, she was paid €831,400 in the role.
Francois Fillon denied the allegations. He said his opponents were trying to sabotage his campaign, and vowed to press on with the election.
As the scandal grew he apologized “profusely” for employing family members, saying that though legal the practice had caused “mistrust”.
His poll ratings dropped sharply, Francois Fillon coming third in the first round of voting, missing out on the second-round run-off.
Le Canard Enchaîné published numerous allegations against the couple.
The magazine revealed that Penelope Fillon had made €100,000 writing just a handful of articles for a literary publication, La Revue des Deux Mondes.
La Revue des Deux Mondes is owned by a billionaire friend of the family, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière. In her ruling, the judge described that payment as an illegal gift.
From 2002 to 2007, Penelope Fillon worked for her husband’s successor as lawmaker, Marc Joulaud. He too was convicted of paying her for little or no work and has been given a three-year suspended sentence.
Other French politicians who have been convicted include late President Jacques Chirac, who in 2011 received a suspended sentence over malpractice when he was mayor of Paris.
Chirac’s one-time Prime Minister, Alain Juppé, also got a suspended sentence in a related case in 2004.
In the mid-1990s, businessman and former Socialist minister Bernard Tapie served an eight-month jail term over a football match-fixing scandal.
Jacques Chirac’s successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, is currently facing two trials, for alleged corruption and illicit campaign funding.
The former prime minister has been
in politics for decades. After serving as lawmaker and in a number of
ministerial roles, he became France’s prime minister between 2007 and 2012
under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ahead of the 2017 presidential election, Francois Fillon won the center-right
Republican party’s presidential primary, and in January 2017 was the clear
frontrunner in the polls.
However, Fillon’s bid for the top job fell apart later that month.
Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical
magazine, alleged that Penelope Fillon – formally employed as her husband’s
parliamentary assistant for about six years in the 1990s and 2000s – never
actually did her job. What’s more, she was paid €831,400 ($900,000) in the
Francois Fillon denied the allegations. He said his opponents were trying to
sabotage his campaign through his wife, and vowed to press on with the
As the scandal grew the former prime minister apologized
“profusely” for employing family members, saying that though legal
the practice had caused “mistrust”.
However, his poll ratings dropped sharply. He came third in the first round
of voting, missing out on the second-round run-off.
Le Canard Enchaîné published
numerous allegations against Francois Fillon and his family.
According to the publication, Penelope Fillon made €100,000 writing just a
handful of articles for a literary publication La Revue des Deux Mondes. The magazine is owned by a billionaire
friend of the family, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.
From 2002 to 2007, Penelope Fillon worked for her husband’s successor as a
lamaker, Marc Joulaud. He has also been placed under formal investigation.
During a brief stint working for her husband between 2012 and 2013, Penelope
Fillon allegedly did not have a work email or parliamentary pass.
Two of the Fillons children have also been caught up in the scandal.
Marie and Charles Fillon were both paid for legal work by their father’s office – yet Le Canard Enchaîné reported that neither were qualified lawyers at the time.
However, the former prime minister has now slipped behind far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron in the race to become president.
Francois Fillon, 63, faces accusations that he arranged for his wife to be paid public money for work as his parliamentary assistant amid claims that: the work she did was trivial or non-existent; Penelope Fillon had no parliamentary pass; few were aware Penelope Fillon was a member of Francois Fillon’s staff; misleading information was included on timesheets.
Francois Fillon is also being investigated over payments to his two children, Marie and Charles, when he was a senator. He has said his children were paid as lawyers for specific tasks, but neither was a qualified lawyer at the time.
In all, Francois Fillon is suspected of diverting public funds, complicity in misappropriating funds, receiving the funds and not declaring assets fully.
There are also questions about a job Penelope Fillon had at a literary magazine owned by a billionaire friend of the couple, for which she allegedly did little or no actual work.
However, key members of his campaign team have abandoned him and several leading Republicans have wavered in their support.
Alain Juppe, like Francois Fillon a former prime minister, did not hold back against any of the leading candidates on March 6.
However, he reserved his angriest comments for Francois Fillon, whose talk of a plot, and criticism of judges and the media, “has led him into a dead-end”.
“What a waste,” he said.
The pressure on Francois Fillon is likely to grow next week, when he is due to appear before a judge to be placed under formal investigation for embezzlement.
In the short-term, Francois Fillon’s party will hold a unity summit on March 6, a meeting he has been urged to attend.
His drop in favorability and Alain Juppe’s decision look like clearing the way for the young centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron to battle it out against Marine Le Pen in the second round. Polls give him a clear edge over the National Front candidate.
A big question mark now hangs over former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Defeated in the first Republican primary by Alain Juppe and Francois Fillon, he had called for an emergency meeting between the three of them.
His Republican party has brought forward crisis talks to March 6.
The former prime minister has seen his popularity slip in opinion polls.
Penelope Fillon told the magazine: “If it hadn’t been me, he would have paid someone else to do it, so we decided that it would be me.
“Everything was legal and declared.”
Image source Wikimedia
Penelope Fillon said that she has repeatedly told her husband to “go all the way” but said that the final decision would be down to him.
She urged Francois Fillon’s supporters to get behind him in his presidential campaign and not to give up.
Speaking to supporters in Paris on March 4 as he marked his 63rd birthday, Francois Fillon said that those attacking him over his presidential bid were “trying to kill a desire for change”.
The latest opinion polls suggest that he would be eliminated in the first round of presidential election voting on April 23, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and liberal Emmanuel Macron likely to progress to contest the election run-off on May 7.
A survey published in Journal du Dimanche suggests that 71% of those polled want Francois Fillon to step down.
In another blow to Francois Fillon’s campaign, his spokesman announced on March 3 that he was quitting.
Thierry Solere’s resignation is one of a slew of notable departures, including the campaign treasurer on March 2.
Francois Fillon’s woes have raised speculation that Alain Juppe, also a former prime minister, could return to the race if he were to pull out.
Alain Juppe was overwhelmingly defeated by Francois Fillon in the Republicans’ primary in November, securing only 33% of the vote to Fillon’s 66%.
Sources close to Alain Juppe said he would be prepared to step in, but only with the unanimous support of the party and only if Francois Fillon were to go voluntarily.
Francois Fillon has so far said he has no intention of stepping down despite the continuing hemorrhage of allies.
Francois Fillon says a judge is placing him under investigation over a fake job scandal – but has vowed to continue his campaign for France presidential election.
For weeks, the center-right presidential candidate has fought allegations that his wife, Penelope, was paid for years for work she did not do.
Francois Fillon called the investigation “a political assassination” against him.
President Francois Hollande criticized his words, and accused him of attacking France’s judicial system.
The president said: “Being a presidential candidate doesn’t authorize you to cast suspicion on the work of police and judges.”
Francois Fillon says he has been summoned to appear before the judge, Serge Tournaire, on March 15.
Image source Wikimedia
The date is just two days before the deadline for candidates to submit their final applications. The first round takes place on April 23, followed by a second-round run-off on May 7.
In a combative speech on March 1 announcing the formal investigation, Francois Fillon called on his supporters to “resist”, saying it was up to voters to decide his fate.
“It’s not just me that is being assassinated, it’s the presidential election. The voices of millions of votes have been muzzled,” he complained.
Francois Fillon said he would respect the summons and tell the judge the truth.
The judge has heard several high-profile cases, including those of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and tycoon Bernard Tapie.
Francois Fillon was selected late last year in national primaries held by the centre-right Republicans that attracted some four million voters.
For a time he was the favorite in the race to succeed Francois Hollande as president – until the fake job allegations emerged.
His appearances have recently been accompanied by loud protests.
He has slipped to third in the polls, behind far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Marine Le Pen also faces allegations that she misused EU funds – a claim she denies.
The allegations circling around the Fillon family focus mainly on his Welsh-born wife Penelope.
Le Canard Enchaine alleged Penelope Fillon was paid €831,400 ($900,000) over several years for working as a parliamentary assistant for her husband and his successor, but had no parliamentary pass – raising questions over whether she did the work she was paid for.
Penelope Fillon was also alleged to have picked up €100,000 for writing a handful of articles for a literary journal.
The family has consistently denied the claims. Initially Francois Fillon said he would stand down as a candidate if his case was placed under formal investigation, but recently he insisted that he would fight on “until victory”.
“The closer we get to the date of the presidential election, the more scandalous it would be to deprive the right and centre of a candidate,” he said.
Penelope Fillon also faces a formal investigation, AFP reports, citing a source close to the investigation.
Francois Fillon has taken back a promise to quit France’s presidential race if placed under formal investigation.
His campaign has been dogged by claims, which he denies, that his wife and two of his children were paid for non-existent parliamentary work.
While an initial investigation is already under way, a decision on a more formal probe has yet to be made.
Francois Fillon told Le Figaro: “I am the candidate and I will continue until victory.
“The closer we get to the date of the election, the more scandalous it would be to deny the Right and the Center of a candidate.”
Image source Wikimedia
The first round of the election will be held on April 23, with the second round run-off between two candidates two weeks later.
On January 26, Francois Fillon had told the TF1 channel that “the only thing that would prevent me from being a candidate is if my honor was tainted, if I was placed under examination”.
While France’s financial prosecutor decided to keep an initial investigation open on February 16, the decision to launch a more formal probe would need to be taken by a magistrate. It could take months or years to reach that point.
Media reports say Francois Fillon’s Welsh-born wife Penelope earned €831,400 ($880,000) as her husband’s parliamentary assistant between 1998 and 2012, and questioned how much work she had done.
It subsequently emerged that Francois Fillon had hired two of his children to act as lawyers, paying them €84,000 between 2005 and 2007 – when they were students.
In early February, Francois Fillon said that although what he had done was legal, French people no longer accepted the practice and that he had made a “mistake”.
The controversy has hit Francois Fillon in the polls, with one new survey by Ifop for three French media outlets on February 17 suggesting he is neck-and-neck with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.
However, the poll places both behind the far-right’s Marine Le Pen.
Polls indicate Francois Fillon or Emmanuel Macron would easily beat Marine Le Pen in the second round of the election in May.
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