Former French conservative prime minister François Fillon and his British wife Penelope, who in 2020 were handed five and three years in jail respectively for embezzling public funds in a fake jobs scam in parliament, were on Monday given shorter prison terms by a Paris appeals court.
Former French conservative prime minister François Fillon was on Monday handed a five-year prison sentence, with three years suspended, and his British wife Penelope was given a three-year suspended jail sentence, after a Paris court found the pair guilty of a scam in which Fillon paid his wife more than 800,000 euros as his parliamentary assistant for work she never did.
Former French prime minister François Fillon’s presidential election campaign nosedived after it was alleged that over several years he fraudulently employed his British-born wife Penelope as his parliamentary assistant for which she earned almost 700,000 euros paid out of public funds. While both Fillon, who was until then the lead candidate in the election, and his wife deny the fake job accusations they are currently placed under investigation in an ongoing judicial probe. The couple insist that if there is little evidence of Penelope Fillon’s presence in parliament it is because she was active in her husband’s constituency. Mediapart has carried out a detailed search through local newspaper archives to find trace of her work, and the result offers little support for their claim. Mathilde Mathieu and Antton Rouget report.
The French conservative party’s presidential candidate, François Fillon, was on Tuesday formally placed under investigation for the suspected fraudulent payments made by him out of public funds to his wife and two of his children who he employed as parliamentary assistants. While the move was widely expected, it is a major new blow for the former prime minister who was the election frontrunner until the alleged fake jobs scandal emerged in January. Meanwhile, further press revelations since the weekend include the disclosure that his children paid him regular sums of money from their salaries as his assistant, and that a mysterious benefactor has gifted him over the past five years with luxury clothing worth more than 48,000 euros.
The cover story of this week’s edition of Paris-Match is a portrait of Penelope Fillon, the British wife of the French conservative presidential candidate François Fillon. The article was clearly an attempt by François Fillon’s public relations team to dampen the scandal which has dented his campaign after it was revealed he paid his wife and two of his children out of parliamentary funds for work it is alleged was never carried out. But, writes Mediapart poltical analyst Hubert Huertas, the portrait of the central but mute character in the affair has in fact simply served to increase the mystery surrounding Penelope Fillon and the unease over her image as her husband’s “mute muse”.
Like many of leading French politicians, François Fillon has his own 'micro' party which is used to develop policy ideas and raise funds. But Mediapart can reveal that the micro party run by Fillon, whose candidacy for the French presidency has been rocked by the so-called “fake jobs” scandal involving his wife Penelope, is discreetly banking donations from members of the public supporting his official electoral campaign. “It's madness!” says one senior figure on the Right. Mathilde Mathieu reports.