France’s Fillon faces further legal process in fake work probe: report
Newspaper claims the investigation could see the politician in court in a matter of days
France’s financial prosecutor will take further legal steps this week in its investigation into allegations of fake work by presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s wife, a newspaper reported.
The Journal du Dimanche cited unidentified sources as saying the proceedings would involve both Fillon and his British wife Penelope.
Neither the prosecutor nor officials representing conservative candidate Fillon could be immediately reached. The couples’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fillon has confirmed that his wife was paid, but has said the work was genuine. His lawyers have questioned the legal legitimacy of the financial prosecutor.
Fillon is fighting to keep his presidential campaign alive. Polls since the scandal broke three weeks ago show him slipping out of the race, with voters turned off by the probe into a report by the Canard Enchaine weekly that she was paid hundreds of thousands of euros in taxpayers money for work she may not have done.
The polls, which before the affair saw him as favourite to win the presidency, show the 62-year-old former prime minister coming a close third in the first round on April 23.
According to the newspaper, there are two potential routes the prosecutor will take. The first would be to refer the case to an investigating magistrate, whose role is to decide whether a person or people should be put under formal investigation.
The second route would be to put the case directly before a criminal court. Under this scenario, the newspaper said, proceedings could start at the earliest within 11 days.
Fillon has said he would stand down if he is put under formal investigation in connection with the fake work scandal.
Should The Republicans party need to choose a new candidate, the cut-off date for the collection of signatures is March 17.