France's Fillon charged with misuse of funds ahead of elections

France's Fillon charged with misuse of funds ahead of elections

France's Fillon charged with misuse of funds ahead of elections

Mr Fillon has said that magistrates are likely to put him officially under investigation on counts of suspected misuse of public funds.

Fillon, 63, has denied any wrongdoing.

Under French law being put under formal investigation means there is "serious or consistent evidence" of probable involvement in a crime, according to Reuters.

It is a step towards a trial, but a number of such investigations have been dropped without going to court.

The charges stem from an investigation his wife and children were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for work they didn't actually perform.

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The national financial prosecutor's office said investigating judges filed the charges on Tuesday.

In a speech before the campaign, Mr Fillon said it would be inconceivable for someone to remain as a candidate if placed in this legal situation.

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Fillon's family members insist they did the work for which they were generously paid.

Valls didn't say if he would support independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron instead.

On Tuesday, the Le Parisien newspaper reported that Fillon's children allegedly passed onto their father some of the money they earned while working as his aides.

Fillon dismissed Macron's claim to present an alternative, saying the former economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande was "a younger Francois Hollande" and had no concrete plans to reinvigorate the economy. Ahead of him are Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pin.

In late January, in an interview aired on national television, Fillon declared that "there is only one thing that would stop me being a candidate: if my honour was called into question, if I was charged".

And earlier this month, the legislative body stripped Le Pen of parliamentary immunity for tweeting graphic images of violence perpetrated by Islamic State militants.

Either way the probe is unlikely to be resolved before the French presidential election, the first round of which is on April 23rd.

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