Monday, March 20, 2017
French presidential candidate Fillon under formal investigation in scandal over misuse of public funds.
François Fillon, the leading French conservative candidate for president, was formally placed under investigation Tuesday on suspicion of embezzling and misusing public funds, in the latest blow to a struggling campaign he refuses to abandon. Fillon, a former prime minister and self-styled family-values conservative, was once considered the easy favourite to win France's presidential election this spring. But then came the accusations — first published in the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé — that his Welsh-born wife and two of his children had received hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money as compensation for jobs they never actually did. His once-unshakeable approval ratings have plummeted in the wake of the scandal, and many in Fillon’s own party, the centre-right Republicans, have requested that he step aside for a more viable candidate. Despite these warning signs — not to mention the rising popularity of the far-right National Front, led by the outspoken Marine Le Pen — Fillon has refused to quit the race, insisting that the scandal is an attempted “political assassination” with little basis in reality. The formal investigation is a step toward charges and a potential trial, though not all such investigations end up in court. Fillon’s troubles deepened as more details related to the scandal emerged this week. On Tuesday, Le Parisien alleged that the two Fillon children who had received public funds had subsequently transferred the money into their parents’ personal account.
— Washington Post