French presidential hopeful faces court over wife’s fake jobs

Paris, March 1 (IANS) French presidential candidate Francois Fillon confirmed on Wednesday that he would be summoned on March 15 by the investigating magistrates over alleged fake jobs.

But the 62-year-old conservative candidate said he would not withdraw from the race. “I will not give up. I will not withdraw,” he told a press conference.

Previously, Fillon had said he would quit the presidential race if he were placed under formal investigation, Xinhua news agency reported.

On January 25, the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine broke “Penelopegate” after revealing that his wife Penelope Fillon had been paid 900,000 euros ($953,640) for her jobs as her husband’s parliamentary assistant and at a culture magazine. However, there was no evidence she had really worked, the report added.

The allegations sent Fillon, who projected himself as an honest and morally irreproachable contender, backpedalling, said the report.

Fillon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying his wife’s job as his parliamentary assistant is “perfectly justified”.

Under French law, it is legal for lawmakers to hire family members as their assistants, but it is illegal to pay them for a fictitious job.