Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Fillon French prosecutor says fake work probe will continue

Fillon French prosecutor says fake work probe will continue Fillon French prosecutor says fake work probe will continue
Melinda Barton | 17 February, 2017, 01:44

Conservative Francois Fillon's campaign for the French presidency is facing another blow, as it emerged that his campaign spokesman is under investigation for possible tax fraud.

"It is my duty to affirm that the numerous elements collected (by investigators) do not, at this stage, permit the case to be dropped", prosecutor Eliane Houlette said in a statement after receiving an initial police report on whether public funds were misused.

Fillon, candidate of the centre-right Les Republicains, has trenchantly denied any wrongdoing and insisted that his wife Penelope was genuinely working for him. "The investigation will continue".

Current polls suggest that centrist Emmanuel Macron is likely to beat Fillon into a run-off against Le Pen, who is expected to have more difficulty picking up votes in the second round than her rivals.

Fillon initially said he would step down from the race if he was given charges, but has recently appeared determined to continue his campaign. "This does nothing to reduce my determination".

His lawyers said the prosecutor's decision was "without justification" and accused the prosecutors of violating rules about investigative secrecy.

Mr Fillon won the conservative primary on his reputation as an unsullied politician and his promises to slash public spending.

Among those potential steps would be elevating the case to a formal judicial inquiry, which would allow for preliminary charges.

However, among the choices before it are dropping the case, taking it further by appointing an investigating magistrate, or sending it straight to trial.