On Monday, the French court convicted former Prime Minister Francois Fillon to five years in prison, three of them were suspended, for misappropriating public funds in a fiasco that ruined his 2017 presidential campaign.
The court also found his wife, Penelope, guilty for her involvement in the fraud that saw her earn around EUR 1 million. She earned this money for nominal service as her husband’s parliamentary assistant. She got a suspended term of three years.
In a harsh ruling, the Chief Judge said that Fillon, 66, had damaged public confidence in the political elite. As a result of giving his wife a salary that was unequal to the job performed.
” Mrs. Fillon requirement was for a pointless role, “Chief Justice Nathalie Gavarino told the couple.
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The Fillon’s will appeal the decision, defense counsel Antonin Levy stated. This implies he won’t go to prison until the court considers the lawsuit.
Fillon, a consummate political figure, worked as Prime Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007-2012. He was the frontrunner of the presidential race when the accusations emerged.
Fillon Denies Corruption Allegations
He denied corruption at the time. Also, he defied pressure from the party to withdraw his candidacy and later lost in the first round of the vote.
When the controversy erupted, he condemned what he termed a dirty trick scheme. More so, he denied doing anything illegal, though he later acknowledged an error of judgment.
However, the court claimed that the couple was unable to justify what Penelope ‘s work was, and had acquired money by fraudulent means.
“The financial gain that occurred (was) substantial,” the judges ruled.
When the statement was announced, he remained speechless.
The court also convicted a third co-defendant, Marc Joulaud, to a suspended three-year term. It was for helping to funnel funds to Penelope despite taking the parliamentary seat of the conservative leader when her husband was in office.
The court directed Fillon’s to repay 401,000 euros in damages to the National Assembly and required Penelope Fillon and Joulaud to reimburse another 679,000 euros.
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