France on Monday sentenced in prison former prime minister Francois Fillon along with his wife and two children for the alleged embezzlement of millions of public funds from fake jobs.
The Guardian reported on the same day that the ex-prime minister was sentenced to five years in jail on top of a €375,000-fine while his wife was slapped a three-year sentence after a court trial found them guilty of pocketing €1 million from non-existent jobs.
The ex-leader was also barred from public service for 10 years.
The ex-prime minister’s wife, Penelope, 64, was said to have paid “the maximum possible” as her statement of account was “out of proportion to her activities.”
“Nothing could have justified the remuneration she received,” read Judge Nathalie Gavarino.
She was also found guilty of having a fake job at a French-language magazine called Revue des Deux Mondes which is run and owned by the ex-prime minister, while she and her husband, employed their two eldest children of the same bogus jobs.
The family denied accusations and said that they will appeal against the court decision.
Meanwhile, a third accused, Marc Jouland who took over Fillon’s constituency as a member of the parliament for the Assemblée Nationale, was ordered a three-year suspended sentence and a fine worth €20,000.
Three years prior, Fillon was on track to become France’s next president in which he was the favourite win. Hopes have crashed when the scandal, known as “Penelopegate” emerged when satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé alleged that Fillon paid his wife and children using public funds to work as his assistants.
Employing family members and have them paid by the state in France is neither illegal nor unusual.
Fillon insisted that his wife was properly employed, opening his letters and helping with parliamentary work.
However, a recording of an interview 10 years earlier emerged where she claimed she did “bits and pieces” for her husband.
“I have never actually been his assistant or anything like that. I don’t deal with his communication,” she was quoted as saying.
The accusations severely damaged Fillon’s presidential bid, prompting him to withdraw from running, allowing the election of the centrist, Emmanuel Macron.
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