Francois Fillon faces major blow to his French Presidential campaign after reports of public money m
François Fillon, considered to be a frontrunner in May’s presidential election, is facing calls to explain what role his wife has played in his political team.
Reports released in French media claim Penelope Fillion was paid nearly £430,000 in eight years out of taxpayers coffers – despite claiming she did not "have a role" in her husband's office both last year and in 2008.
Parisian prosecutors released a statement hours after French media released Penelope Fillion’s salary.
The statement read: “Following the publication on January 25 2017 in Le Canard Enchaine of a story calling Mrs Penelope Fillon into question, the financial prosecutor's office today opened a preliminary investigation into misappropriation of public funds, misuse of company assets and concealment of these offences.”
FACTS about Marine Le Pen
Wed, November 23, 2016
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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A French politician who is the president of the National Front (FN), a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
British-born Ms Fillon reportedly earned a monthly salary of up to £6,000 (€7,000) in some months and was paid around £430,000 (€500,000) in eight years between the late 1990s and early 2010.
It is legal and common practice for French politicians to employ their family members as long as they are genuine employees, however investigators have claimed they were unable to track anyone who had seen evidence of Penelope Fillon’s work.
Condemning the “misogynistic” article which he felt was an attempt to ruin his campaign, Mr Fillon told reporters, “I see the stink-bomb season has started”.
The 62-year-old politician later claimed he hoped to speak to investigators “as soon as possible” to “set out the truth” because the claims were “baseless”.
Marine Le Pen has not yet made a comment on the issue, her party is facing a different investigation
According to the most recent poll, Mr Fillon is the front-runner for the presidential election, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron as his main challengers.
Manuel Valls, a socialist candidate and former French prime minister, urged Mr Fillon to come clean to voters.
Manuel Valls, the former French PM who also hopes to stand, condemned Fillon
He said: “You can't be the candidate of honesty and transparency and not respond.”
Marine Le Pen has remained silent as her own party is under investigation for the improper employment of assistants by its MEPs in the European Parliament.