French presidential candidate Francois Fillon has been charged with a range of offences related to a fake jobs scandal involving his British wife.
The conservative candidate has been put under formal investigation on suspicion of diverting public funds, complicity in misappropriating funds, receiving the funds and not declaring assets fully, a judicial source said. His lawyer Antonin Levy told AFP: “He was charged this morning. The hearing was brought forward so that it could take place in a calm manner.”
Financial prosecutors said the 63-year-old faces trial and, if he is found guilty of swindling hundreds of thousands of pounds over three decades, a prison sentence.
It is alleged that Penelope Fillon, 62, pretended to be a high-powered parliamentary aide and literary consultant in what has become known as Penelopegate.
Their two eldest children, Marie and Charles, also allegedly worked for their father in the French senate, raking in more cash.
The former prime minister has for weeks denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a “manhunt”.
Under French law, being put under formal investigation means there is “serious or consistent evidence” that points to probable involvement of a suspect in a crime.
It is a step towards a trial, but a number of such investigations have been dropped without going to court.