France: Fmr PM Fillon sentenced to prison over fake jobs fraud

Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon was sentenced to prison by a court in Paris on Monday, after having been found guilty of using public funds to pay his wife, and two of his children, to work fake jobs. Fillon was seen arriving at court with his wife Penelope, who was also found guilty of complicity in the scheme, to hear the verdict. Lawyers for the couple spoke outside the courtroom afterwards and condemned the court's decision. «This unfair decision will be overturned on appeal, it already is being appealed, and there will be a retrial,» said the former prime minister's lawyer Antonin Levy. «It is for us an attack on the separation of powers, it has always been the biggest argument we have used and therefore that the court should judge the quality of the services and the nature of the services as a parliamentary employee and this alone leads us to appeal,» stated Penelope Fillon's lawyer, Pierre Cornut-Gentille. Francois Fillon was found guilty of using public funds to pay his wife over €1 ($1.09) million between 1998 and 2013 for working as his parliamentary assistant, a job which she allegedly never performed. He was also found guilty of employing his son Charles and daughter Marie as assistants from 2005 to 2007, for which they received a combined €117,000 ($131,432) in payment, despite allegedly doing no work. The court sentenced Fillon to five years in prison, three of which were suspended, and ordered him to pay a fine of €375,000 ($422,000), in addition to a ten year ban on running for public office. His wife Penelope, was fined the same amount, given a three year suspended sentence, and was a two year ban on public office. Fillon, who served as prime minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012, was widely considered the frontrunner to win the 2017 presidential election, before the bogus jobs allegations were published in January of that year by the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine.

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