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>> He's the clear favorite to become the next French President, but for how much longer? Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope questioned by police for five hours on Monday. A search at the French Parliament following on Tuesday. Part of a probe into claims Penelope had been paid for fake jobs.
The allegations, which Fillon rejects, sapping his popularity and could shake up the April-May presidential contest. In a statement the candidate said he provided investigators with information that would help establish the truth on the work carried out by Mrs. Fillon. Such a questioning a normal step in the preliminary probe, not an indication of guilt.
France's financial prosecutor began investigating last week. Penelope Fillon was paid half a million euros from state funds as a parliamentary assistant to her husband and his successor. But France's Canard enchaine magazine says there's no evidence she actually did any work. In an increasingly tight race, the affair is denting Fillon's wholesome image.
He said he will abandon his presidential bid if he is placed under formal criminal investigation. If that was to happen time is running out for the conservative Republicans to choose another candidate. March 22nd the deadline for official election registrations.