‘Fake jobs’: French ex-PM François Fillon and wife jailed

Fillon and wife in court, 29 Jun 20Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The couple wore anti-virus masks in court on Monday

French ex-Prime Minister François Fillon and his Welsh wife Penelope have been jailed over a “fake jobs” scandal.

He was sentenced to five years in jail, three of them suspended, while she got three years’ jail suspended.

Each was also fined €375,000 (£343,000; $423,000).

He was found to have paid his wife €831,400. The scandal torpedoed Fillon’s 2017 bid to become president. The centre-right candidate’s ratings plunged when the allegations surfaced.

“The payment was disproportionate to the work done,” the chief judge said. “Mrs Fillon was hired for a position that was without use.”

She was also found guilty of complicity to embezzle and conceal public funds.

Who is François Fillon?

He has been in politics for decades. After serving as an MP, senator, and in a number of ministerial roles, he became France’s prime minister between 2007 and 2012 under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Fillon (right) was prime minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy (left)

Ahead of the 2017 presidential election, he won the centre-right Republican party’s presidential primary, and in January 2017 was the clear frontrunner in the polls.

But his bid for the top job fell apart later that month.

Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical magazine, alleged that Penelope Fillon – formally employed as his parliamentary assistant for about six years in the 1990s and 2000s – never actually did her job. What’s more, she was paid €831,400 (£697,000; $900,000) in the role.

Mr Fillon denied the allegations. He said his opponents were trying to sabotage his campaign through his wife, and vowed to press on with the election.

As the scandal grew he apologised “profusely” for employing family members, saying that though legal the practice had caused “mistrust”.

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Media captionFrancois Fillon: “I apologise to the French people”

But his poll ratings dropped sharply. He came third in the first round of voting, missing out on the second-round run off.

What is PenelopeGate?

Le Canard Enchaîné published numerous allegations against Mr Fillon and his family.

According to the magazine, Mrs Fillon made €100,000 writing just a handful of articles for a literary publication La Revue des Deux Mondes. The magazine is owned by a billionaire friend of the family, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.

From 2002-2007, Mrs Fillon worked for her husband’s successor as an MP, Marc Joulaud. He too has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

And during a brief stint working for her husband between 2012-2013, Mrs Fillon allegedly did not have a work email or parliamentary pass.

Read the full article at: bbc.com