On this day in 2017: François Fillon is placed under investigation, and his presidential candidacy is rescinded

All presidential campaigns have their share of symbolic race-altering moments, whether it’s breathtaking, game-changing accidents that only seem crucial in hindsight. As French voters prepare to elect a president in April after another unusual race, Jowharhas had a look at some key moments from past election campaigns. In the spotlight: March 14, 2017, the day Governor Francois Fillon was placed under official investigation into the “fake jobs” scandal.

With just 40 days left before the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, François Fillon’s nightmarish career took a new turn when a judge put Lee’s candidate, conservative Republicans, under formal investigation over allegations she arranged for his wife to get a good pay for a job. you did not.

A former prime minister who positioned himself early on as a model of integrity in the election campaign, Fillon has been dogged by mounting accusations for weeks. Authorities opened a preliminary investigation in January into alleged wrongdoing after the investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaîné published allegations that Fillon’s British-born wife, Penelope, had received, over several years, 500,000 euros in taxpayer money cashed out from the package Her deputy husband assigned her to pay the salaries of his support staff. The scandal would be known as “Penelopegate”.

Those initial discoveries were just the beginning with a drumbeat of new allegations ensuing, pushing Fillon – once the frontrunner in a race that was seen as losing – away from his stride. By March, French media reported that Penelope had paid 1 million euros for his service (or rather, the lack of service) as a parliamentary assistant, and added allegations against two of the couple’s sons because of their work as a parliamentary assistant.

Outside the financial prosecutor’s office on that fateful day, France 24’s James Andre reported that the new development was “a major embarrassment to the candidate, who presented himself as a transparency candidate”.

Indeed, Fillon was stumped to cut public spending that he considered wasteful and vowed to kill bureaucracy by cutting 500,000 civil service jobs if elected.

Furthermore, Fillon “gave several speeches at the beginning of the campaign that said he had absolutely no legal problems, and that people serving the Republic needed to be exemplary. He also famously said, ‘Can anyone imagine the general?’” de Gaulle under official investigation? ” well now [Fillon]is,” Andrei said that day.

Flashbacks to 2017: Fillon being put under formal investigation over ‘phantom jobs scandal’

However, the candidate – who has denied all wrongdoing – has vowed to step down if he is placed under formal investigation.

“For the past two or three weeks, he has been saying that he was the victim of a conspiracy, that this was a ‘political assassination,’ and that he would come to the bitter end of this campaign,” Andrei said.

The fight for the presidency seemed fraught with danger. But the fact of being late to the game was a double-edged sword for Les Républicains. And it seemed that the Conservative Party would be damned if it did, and damned if it didn’t stick to the candidate who won the primaries in November.

“It’s like climbing the Himalayas without oxygen because this indictment will drag him for the next 40 days, depriving his campaign of political oxygen,” political expert Philip Breton told France 24 at the time.

In the end, Fillon saw his attempt reach a finish line of sorts, the first round on April 23, and maintained a solid base of conservative support under the circumstances with 20 percent of the vote. But that was still only good for third place, 450,000 votes shy of the mark, as the two places in the May 7 run-off went to Emmanuel Macron and far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Conclusion: Trial, Appeal and .. Attack on Ukraine

Faded from public life, Fillon officially stepped down from politics in November 2017.

In the end, he and his wife were tried in the fake jobs case. In June of 2020, a French court found François Fillon guilty of embezzlement of public funds and sentenced him to five years in prison, three of which were suspended. The court ordered the disgraced politician to pay a fine of 375,000 euros and banned him from seeking any public office for a decade. Meanwhile, Penelope Fillon was convicted of complicity in embezzlement and concealment of public funds – and was given a three-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 375,000 euros.

The authorities did not pursue a case against the Fillon children after investigative judges determined that they “most likely had no full awareness that they were profiting from a fictitious job.” The judges noted that the children’s salaries were “only transferred through their bank accounts” before being returned almost entirely to their father.

The couple’s appeal against the verdict was heard in November 2021 and the former presidential candidate remains at large pending verdict, which is due for release on May 9.

While the former prime minister has largely kept a low profile, Fillon recently attracted unwanted attention during the 2022 presidential race. After leaving politics, he joined an investment firm in Paris, started a business consultancy and, controversially, joined the boards of a firm. Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft in June 2021 and Russian petrochemical company Sibur in December.

Hours after the Russian invasion early on February 24, Fillon wrote on Twitter his condemnation of the “use of force in Ukraine”. However, his message on social media has come under heavy criticism for the following: “But for 10 years, I have been warning about Western refusal to take into account Russian demands on NATO expansion,” he wrote. Today this situation has led to a dangerous confrontation that could have been avoided.”

Fillon’s awkward position, and his initial response to the Russian invasion, soon became stressful for Valérie Pecres, his faltering successor as the presidential candidate of Les Républicains, despite her blatant lack of sympathy for the Kremlin during the election campaign. On February 25, Fillon announced that he was stepping down from his posts in Russia.

“Today, war has returned to the heart of Europe,” he wrote in an article. “It is a collective failure, but in the hierarchy of responsibilities, Vladimir Putin is the only culprit in launching a conflict that could – and should – have been avoided.” Weekly Journal du Dimanche. “Under these conditions, I cannot continue to participate in the boards of directors of the Russian companies Zarubezhneft and Sibur.”

French presidential elections © France 24

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