Europe Update

Former French PM Fillon sentenced to jail over fake jobs scandal involving his wife

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A French court on Monday found former Prime Minister Francois Fillon guilty of embezzlement of public funds in a fake jobs scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president and opened the Elysée Palace door for Emmanuel Macron.

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Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, three of them suspended. The court ordered him to pay 375,000 euros in fines and barred him from seeking public office for 10 years.

His wife Penelope, who was found guilty of compicity to embezzle and conceal public money, was given a three-year suspended jail term and fined the same amount.

Fillon's bid for the presidency unravelled after allegations surfaced that he had paid his British-born wife hundreds of thousands of euros for doing little, if any, work as his parliamentary assistant.

"The payment was disproportionate to the work done," the chief judge said, reading the court's ruling. "Mrs. Fillon was hired for a position that was without use."

A lawyer for the Fillons said they would appeal the ruling.

A consummate political insider who was prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, Fillon had been the frontrunner in the 2017 election race when the allegations surfaced. At the time, he denied wrongdoing, resisted party pressure to pull his candidacy, and was eliminated in the first round of the vote.

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