Francois Fillon placed under formal investigation
French presidential candidate Francois Fillon has been placed under formal investigation over an alleged diversion of public funds, prosecutors say.
The centre-right contender is suspected of paying hundreds of thousands of euros to his family for work they may not have done.
He denies wrongdoing, but had earlier said he would quit the presidential race if placed under investigation.
Until recently, he was the favourite to win the elections in April and May.
But the former prime minister has now slipped behind far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.
On Tuesday, Mr Fillon, 63, was personally placed under formal investigation over suspicions that he arranged for his wife Penelope to be paid public money for work as his parliamentary assistant which she did not actually carry out.
He is also being investigated over payments to his two children Marie and Charles when he was a senator. Mr Fillon has said his children were paid as lawyers, for specific tasks. But neither was a qualified lawyer at the time.
In all, Mr Fillon is suspected of diverting public funds, complicity in misappropriating funds, receiving the funds and not declaring assets fully.
A magistrate had already been investigating the case, but until now the inquiry did not mention Mr Fillon directly.
This is the moment that Francois Fillon feared, but which he knew was probably coming, the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.
The embarrassment is acute, he says, because this is the same Mr Fillon, who before the campaign, said it would be inconceivable for someone to remain as a candidate if placed in this legal situation.
The comments are now coming back to haunt him, our correspondent adds.
To explain his decision to maintain his candidacy, Mr Fillon has said he had assumed justice would be fair, but he describes the investigation as a “political assassination”.
He also argues that he defeated other centre-right candidates in a primary last November and there is no viable alternative contender.
hes a DMW..
“But the former prime minister has now slipped behind far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.”
thats the play “they” wanted..the rothschild banker versus marine..
“Mr Fillon is suspected of diverting public funds, complicity in misappropriating funds, receiving the funds and not declaring assets fully.”