François Fillon's wife Penelope charged and placed under formal investigation in 'fake jobs' scandal

Tareq Haddad

The wife of French presidential candidate François Fillon has been placed under formal investigation for her role in an on-going "fake jobs" scandal.

Welsh-born Penelope Fillon is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of Euros from the state purse for jobs she did not undertake.

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She was charged with "misuse of public funds", "receiving money from a misuse of company assets" and "receiving money from a fraud", a judge official confirmed on Tuesday (28 March).

The scandal has devastated her husband's prospects of becoming the next French president. After initially leading in the polls, Fillon is now not even expected to pass through the first round of voting against rivals Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.

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The scandal erupted after leaked documents showed the 63-year-old politician paid his wife more than €810,000 (£700,000) as his aide. Fillon also paid his two children a combined £80,000 for legal roles, although they were not qualified lawyers at the time.

He himself was also placed under formal investigation earlier this month. However he and his wife have maintained their innocence throughout the affair.

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Fillon has also gone a step further by accusing President François Hollande of orchestrating a series of damaging leaks to create the scandal.

The claims were immediately denied by the president's office, which said that Hollande "condemns with the greatest firmness the false allegations of Fillon".

"The executive has never intervened in any judicial procedure and has always strictly respected the independence of the judiciary," it said in a statement, adding that Fillon's allegations brought "intolerable discord" to the campaign.

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