French ex-pm Fillon, wife sentenced to jail over ‘fake jobs’ scandal
French ex-prime minister François Fillon and his Welsh wife received jail sentences in a “fake jobs” case.
The conservative politician was found guilty of paying Penelope Fillon €831,400 (£760,000; $938,000) for work she never did as his assistant, according to BBC.
He was sentenced to five years in prison, three of them suspended. She was given a three-year suspended term.
The scandal ruined his presidential bid in 2017. Both have appealed, blocking Mr. Fillon’s immediate detention.
He is the most senior French political figure to receive a custodial sentence since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.
Delivering the verdict in a Paris courthouse on Monday, the presiding judge said, “The payment was disproportionate to the work done. Mrs. Fillon was hired for a position that was without use.”
Mrs. Fillon was found guilty of complicity to embezzle and conceal public funds.
Coronavirus masks obscured the couple’s expressions as the verdicts were read out.
Francois and Penelope Fillon’s lawyers insist that the battle is far from lost, and that the appeal will be a new and fairer trial.
They have two big arguments. First that a court of law has no place determining what actually constitutes work on behalf of a politician. You or I might find it venal an MP paying his wife to do what she would probably do anyway for free – but that does not mean it is illegal.
And second – that once told, the full story behind Mr. Fillon’s downfall will show the case in a different light. The Fillon team has been encouraged by claims from the former chief financial prosecutor that she was “pressured” into speeding up investigations into Mr. Fillon in early 2017.
It supports their view that the whole affair was orchestrated to do the maximum possible damage. Even if that were proven, though, it would not necessarily affect the legal case against the Fillons. And that – for now – is very damning indeed.