French ex-pm Fil­lon, wife sen­tenced to jail over ‘fake jobs’ scan­dal

Iran Daily - - Internatio­nal -

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.

REUTERS

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