Feb 23, 2020 18:10 UTC
  • Former French PM Fillon’s trial to begin over fake jobs scandal

Former French prime minister Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope go on trial on Monday over a fake jobs scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president and opened the Elysee Palace door for Emmanuel Macron.

According to reports, Fillon's bid for the presidency unraveled after allegations he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for doing little, if any, work as his parliamentary assistant.

A consummate political insider who was prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, Fillon was the comfortable frontrunner in the election race when the allegations surfaced.

He denied wrongdoing, resisted party pressure to pull his candidacy, and was eliminated in the first round of the vote.

Fillon said in an interview last month that his wife had been his most important employee and that her work for him would be proven at trial.

"She managed my constituency diary and my mail, and edited the speeches I was making," he told public broadcaster France 2.

Investigators estimate Penelope Fillon received 1 million euros ($1 million) from her husband's office over a three decade period from the early 1980s to 2013.

When the scandal broke, Fillon denounced what he called a campaign of dirty tricks and denied having done anything illegal, though he admitted an error of judgment. He told France 2 he may have made mistakes.