Former French PM Fillon jail sentence over fake job

Former French PM Fillon jail sentence over fake job”

The couple's lawyers immediately appealed Monday's verdict from the Paris court.

Fillon and his wife were also ordered to pay fines of 375,000 euros ($423,000) each.

It later emerged Fillon had used public money to pay two of his children a combined 117,000 euros for sham work while he was a senator, before becoming premier in the government of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

He remains free until a decision is made on his appeal. Fillon was also given 10 years ineligibility and his wife two years.

The couple was also requested to reimburse the National Assembly more than 1 million euros that corresponded to the salaries and payroll charges that were paid.

That penalty is also part of the appeal.

A newspaper report on the fake job surfaced in January 2017, just after Fillon clinched the nomination from his rightwing Republicans party for a presidential race he was widely tipped to win. It cost him his reputation. Centrist Emmanuel Macron eventually won the 2017 election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. "Mrs Fillon was hired for a position that was without use", it said.

Presiding judge Nathalie Gavarino said Fillon, 66, pursued "personal enrichment" over the common good and "contributed to an erosion of public trust" in elected leaders. "Nothing justifies the paid salaries". "It's not fair", said Antonin Levy, a lawyer for Fillon.

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The trial started on February 26 but was paused as of March 11 due to the coronavirus outbreak in France.

Prosecutors denounced "fraudulent, systematic practices".

Fillon was accused of misuse of public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds and the misappropriation of company assets. His wife was charged mostly as an accomplice.

Over the years, she was offered different types of contracts as a parliamentary assistant, depending on her husband's political career. She said working that way allowed her to have a flexible schedule and raise their five children in the Fillons' countryside manor.

Prosecutors had pointed to the lack of actual evidence of her work, including the absence of declarations for any paid vacations or maternity leave.

Fillon insisted that Penelope had been his most important employee and did real work for him in his rural constituency of Sarthe.

Mrs Fillon, née Clarke, from Llanover near Abergavenny, was also found guilty of having a "fake" job at a French-language monthly literary, cultural and political affairs magazine, Revue des Deux Mondes, run by one of her husband's friends.

He was also handed a three year suspended sentence.

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