Thursday, August 13, 2020

Former French Prime Minister François Fillon and his wife convicted of fraud

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After leaving politics three years ago, embroiled in the start of an investigation for fraud, former French Prime Minister François Fillon was sentenced to prison.

Fillon found guilty of using public funds to pay his wife and children more than EUR 1 million (AUD 1.63 million) since 1998 for work they had never done .

The couple’s lawyers immediately appealed the verdict.

Mr. Fillon, 66, was sentenced to five years in prison, three of which were suspended.

He was also fined 375,000 euros ($ 612,000) and prohibited from running for an electoral mandate for 10 years.

He remains free until a decision is rendered on his appeal.

His 64-year-old wife Penelope was found guilty of complicity.

She was sentenced to three years suspended sentence and an equivalent fine.

The couple were also asked to reimburse the National Assembly more than one million euros corresponding to the salaries and social charges that were paid.

French politician François Fillon during a debate.
In 2016, Mr. Fillon was appointed to become the next president of France.(Reuters: Christphe Archambault)

This sanction is also part of the appeal.

The scandal erupted in the French media just three months before the 2017 presidential election in the country.

Mr. Fillon was a favorite but lost to current leader Emmanuel Macron.

Ms. Fillon’s alleged role drew all attention during the February-March trial, which focused on whether her activities were in the traditional role of partner of an elected official, or involved real work paid.

After deciding to support her husband’s career when she was first elected as a French politician in 1981, Ms. Fillon said that she had been offered different types of contracts as a parliamentary assistant, depending on the political career. from her husband.

She described her duties as writing reports on local issues, opening mail, meeting residents and helping with speech preparation for local events.

She said working this way allowed her to have a flexible schedule and raise their five children in the Fillons country mansion.

Man with blond hair and man with dark gray hair wearing masks between two police officersMan with blond hair and man with dark gray hair wearing masks between two police officers
The couple were also asked to reimburse the wages for which they had been found guilty.(AP: Michel Euler)

But prosecutors pointed to the lack of real evidence of his work, including the absence of declarations for any paid leave or maternity leave, since his salary reached up to nine times the minimum wage in France.

Another former politician, Marc Joulaud, was also tried in the case of embezzlement of public funds after allegedly entrusting Ms. Fillon with a false job of aid from 2002 to 2007. He was found guilty and sentenced to three years of suspended prison. .

Magazine owner Marc de Lacharrière pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence of eight months in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros in 2018 after discovering that he had given Ms. Fillon another false job as a literature consultant in 2012-2013.

At 27, Mr. Fillon was once the youngest politician in the French National Assembly and was Prime Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

He was also minister under two previous presidents, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.

He left French politics in 2017 and now works for an asset management company.

AP

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