French ex-PM François Fillon’s Trial Begins over Fake Jobs
Former French Prime Minister François Fillon is due in court for his role in a “fake jobs” scandal.
He is accused of paying his Welsh wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros for work she allegedly never did when she was employed as his parliamentary assistant.
They deny the allegations and both scheduled to appear on in court today with the trial scheduled to run until 11 March.
The scandal – dubbed PenelopeGate – began in 2017, when Mr. Fillon seemed favourite to win the presidency.
Mr. Fillon who has been in politics for decades could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
After serving as an MP, Senator, and in a number of ministerial roles, he became France’s prime minister between 2007 and 2012 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ahead of the 2017 presidential election, he won the center-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 and what’s more, she was paid 831,400 euros in the role.
Mr. Fillon denied the allegations, saying 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”.