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News Worms


Presidential hopeful Francois Fillon under formal investigation over 'fake job' scandal

Presidential hopeful Francois Fillon under formal investigation over 'fake job' scandal

Fillon, who is now trailing in third place in the presidential race, claims he's the victim of "political assassination", Reuters reports.

Once a front-runner of the presidential campaign, Mr Fillon has seen his popularity drop following successive waves of revelations in French newspaper reports since January.

But the former prime minister refuted claims he would pull out as the Republicans party candidate in the April-May presidential election - even if he went under formal investigation. The independent Macron would beat anti-euro nationalist Marine Le Pen by more than 20 points in the final round, OpinionWay said.

Under French law being put under formal investigation means there is "serious or consistent evidence" of probable involvement in a crime, according to Reuters. At a press conference earlier this month - before formal charges came down - Fillon described the probe as a "political assassination".

Fillon had been expected to meet with judges on Wednesday over fraud accusations relating to undeclared funds.

Fillon is accused of misusing public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds, complicity in misusing public funds and improper declaration of his assets, among other charges.

Fillon's family members insist they did the work for which they were generously paid. And that's where a path to the presidency becomes significantly trickier for Le Pen, who has also faced her own fake jobs scandal.

But having fought on until now in a wildly unpredictable election no one is ready to rule Fillon out of the running, fake jobs scandal or not.

Fillon's troubles deepened as more details related to the scandal emerged this week, tarnishing his carefully cultivated image as a sober and sensible custodian of France's future.

Prosecutors began looking into Fillon in January, when it was reported that his wife earned almost 1 million Euros for a job as a parliamentary assistant, which reports claim she did not do.

Over the weekend, Mr Fillon's party apologised for tweeting a caricature of Mr Macron that Mr Fillon himself admitted was anti-Semitic.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is also linked to a preliminary investigation, opened by prosecutors on Tuesday, into suspected favoritism surrounding a 2016 event in Las Vegas when jhe was economy minister.

Fillon was the front runner for two-round presidential elections due to be held on April 23 and May 7.

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