Former French PM Fillon found guilty of million-euro fake job fraud

Cheryl Sanders
June 29, 2020

Francois Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, three of which were suspended, and slapped with a $423,000 fine but remains free pending appeal.

He was also accused of getting the millionaire owner of a literary magazine to pay his wife 135,000 euros for "consulting work" that was largely fake.

His wife Penelope, who was found guilty of compicity to embezzle and hide public money, was given a three-year suspended jail term and fined the same amount.

He was also handed a three year suspended sentence.

The couple's lawyers immediately appealed Monday's verdict from the Paris court.

Presiding Judge Nathalie Gavarino said Penelope Fillon's role was without substance, in a ruling at a Paris criminal court on Monday (June 29). However, a recording of an interview with Penelope Fillon published 10 years earlier emerged in which she claimed she did "bits and pieces" for her husband but declared: "I have never actually been his assistant or anything like that".

Fillon and his wife Penelope, who comes originally from Wales, had denied any wrongdoing.

A newspaper report on the fake job surfaced in January 2017, just after Fillon clinched the nomination from his rightwing Republicans party for a presidential race he was widely tipped to win. Fillon sank to third place in the election, which was won by Emmanuel Macron.

Levy said the sentence was unfair, that there was a conspiracy against the couple and promised there would be a new trial.

The allegations that Fillon had pilfered the public coffers for years pummelled his image as an upright fiscal hawk promising to right the country's finances - and loomed large in the "yellow vest" anti-government protests that rocked the country in 2018-2019.

Prosecutors pointed at the lack of actual evidence of her work, including the absence of declarations for any paid vacations or maternity leave, as her wages reached up to nine times France's minimum salary.

Fillon insisted his wife had been properly and gainfully employed, opening his letters and helping with vital parliamentary work. He was been fined 375,000 euros as called for by the state prosecutor.

The ex-prime minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy, a Republican, Fillon was considered one of the frontrunners in the race - alongside National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron who eventually emerged as the victor. He was also a minister under two previous presidents, Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac.

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