By Stephen Lendman.
Once favored to succeed current French President Francois Hollande, Francois Fillion’s campaign may be over.
Instead of heading for the Elysee Palace where French presidents reside and work, he could face prison time if prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced for what amounts to grand theft if proved – for allegedly providing highly-paid fake jobs for his wife and children.
According to his attorney Antonin Levy, “(h)e was charged this morning. The hearing was brought forward so that it could take place in a calm manner.”
He’s also charged with misuse of corporate assets. Le Canard Enchaine newspaper claims he used public funds to pay his wife, Penelope, at least 680,000 euros ($720,000) for years as a parliamentary aide.
It’s legal for French parliamentarians to employ family members provided they perform actual duties. Mrs. Fillon allegedly did not.
Earlier, Fillon expressed confidence about being exonerated on all charges.
Le Canard Enchaine also alleges Mrs. Fillon was paid tens of thousands of euros by Revue des Deux Mondes, a monthly literary and cultural affairs magazine, owned by billionaire Fillon friend Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere.
Investigations continue on whether this amounts to a misappropriation of corporate assets.
Two of Fillon’s children’s were paid for alleged fictitious jobs. He claims otherwise, including about funds paid his wife.
Before the scandal broke, he was heavily favored to become France’s next president. Whether or not tried and convicted, he’s damaged goods in the eyes of most French voters, according to poll numbers.
First round voting is scheduled for April 23. If Fillon is still in the race at that time, he’ll likely be eliminated from contention for round two in May, featuring the top two vote getters – almost certain to be Emmanual Macron and Marine Le Pen.