French Presidential Candidate Charged with Embezzlement

French Presidential Candidate Charged with Embezzlement

Citizens are holding politicians more accountable in all corners of the world. On Tuesday, the French government charged François Fillon with multiple embezzlement cases.

Fillon, a center-right politician, is the first major presidential candidate in France to campaign while under criminal investigation. The primary purpose of the investigation is to find if Fillon paid his wife and children with public funding. His wife and two of his five children worked as parliamentary aides for Fillon. Accordingly, reports show that during their tenure as aides, they transferred large amounts of money to Fillon.

Fillon led the presidential primaries at the end of last year. However, a French weekly newspaper reported in January that his wife’s role as a parliamentary aide was not as Fillon depicted. Despite that civilians were paying for her public position, his wife ‘worked from home.’

The accusations did not greatly impact his ranking in local polls, but continuous discoveries are challenging that stride. Other polls suggest that France will no longer consider him a candidate after April 23. Despite multiple suggestions that Fillion does not have a chance of winning, he has refused to denounce his candidacy.

The most recent findings accuse Fillon of excessive spending. Investigators found that he paid nearly 48,500 euros — approximately $51,500 — to a tailor since 2012 for suits. However, there is no record of who made those payments, making investigators believe he embezzled the money. A local newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, found that someone anonymous made two recent suit payments totaling more than $13,000.

Accordingly, the French Parliament’s ethics ombudsmen met with Fillon yesterday to discuss all charges. During the meeting, Fillon denied all charges.

“My wife’s job as parliamentary aide was not fictitious, and it is not up to the judicial authority to assess the quality or content of this work,” he said. “You have decided to summon me in a hurry for facts going back nearly 20 years…I respect the judicial institutions and the burden that the law entrusts to you. I am waiting to be treated like all the citizens of our country.”

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