France: Fillon under probe over €500K payment to wife
26 Jan 2017 - 10:23
PARIS: Finance prosecutors launched Wednesday a preliminary probe over misuse of public funds following a media report that presidential favorite Francois Fillon paid his wife €500,000 ($537,000) to act as his parliamentary assistant.
The investigation was launched following a story that was published in the satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaine, a statement said.
Le Canard Enchaine claimed Wednesday - citing pay slips - that Fillon's British-born wife, Penelope, was paid between €6,900 and €7,900 a month from 1998 to 2002, then for six months in 2012.
Although it is legal for French MPs to hire family members, the weekly said the aide job was a fictional position and Penelope Fillon never actually worked.
"I see that the mudslinging season has begun," the 62-year-old candidate, who served as prime minister under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, told reporters during a campaign event in Bordeaux.
He declined to comment further, only saying he was "outraged by the disdain and misogyny in this article".
Fillon was the winner of the Les Republicains run-off.
Currently, a Paris lawmaker, he is a social conservative and Catholic who voted against same-sex marriage when it was introduced by Socialist President Francois Hollande.
Fillon will compete in next year’s presidential election on April 23 and May 7, where he could face the leader of the far-right Front National party, Marine Le Pen.