French Presidential Candidate, Francois Fillon, Charged With Embezzlement
Francois Fillon, a French presidential candidate, was charged with embezzlement this week. Filion, a center-right candidate was brought up on charges on Tuesday, harming the candidate’s campaign. He has stated that he will continue to campaign for presidency despite the charges against him.
The candidate’s charges focus on employment of his wife, two children at the expense of the public.
Fillon was a leading candidate in November before a report that his wife was a parliamentary aide that is a no-show. The news led to his support tumbling in recent months. His campaign stabilized the poll numbers enough to keep him in the presidential race before news broke on Tuesday of his embezzlement charges.
He previously promised his withdrawal from the race if he was criminally charged. The candidate went back on his promise, causing many campaign staffers to leave his side.
Polls have Fillon eliminated in the first round of the election on April 23. Marine Le Pen will be one of two candidates left in the presidential race.
Reports of Fillon’s high-priced suits also made the news on Sunday. The reports allege that the candidate spent €48,500 on fine suits since 2012. The source of the money for the suits remains unknown. Fillon does not deny the report.
A Twitter leak from Le Canard Enchaine forced the embezzlement charges to be announced a day ahead of schedule. Fillon was slated to meet with judges, upon a court summons, but had to meet with the judges a day earlier to avoid the media.
Fillon denies any wrongdoing. He reaffirms that his wife’s position is not fictitious.
The investigation into Fillon is on the basis that he paid his wife with hundreds of thousands of euros for work she either didn’t do or did very little of while in the position. The candidate is also being investigated for not declaring his assets completely and for complicity in misappropriating funds.
Eric Ciotti, a lawmaker in his party, states, “I trust and support Francois Fillon more than ever.” The candidate acknowledged previously that he would likely be under formal investigation.
The former favorite for The Republican party, Fillion’s poll numbers leave him behind Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. The two frontrunners will go into the second round of voting in May.
Fillon’s camp has been mute on the subject. His lawyers declined to comment and Fillon has yet to make a public announcement. If he is found guilty of a white-collar crime, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of €1 million. Fillon has stated that he is a victim of “political assassination.”
Reports suggest that Fillon’s charges may date back some 20 years in some cases. Fillon’s camp confirms his quote to judges, stating, “You decided to call me for questioning hurriedly for things that date back, in some cases, 20 years.”
Stories of Fillon’s children transferring large sums of taxpayer money back into their father’s account further hurt his campaign.
Le Pen is also facing allegations that she underpaid taxes.
BBC News broke the news earlier in the month that Fillon didn’t declare a €50,000 interest-free loan given by businessman Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere.
Author: Jacob Maslow