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28 February 2017 at 09:24 BST

French candidates to face investigation right up to election

France's Justice Minister has warned presidential frontrunners Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen that there will be no let-up in legal investigations targeting them ahead of elections two months away.

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Both candidates have been accused of misusing public money through the use of fake parliamentary aides. Additionally, Le Pen faces a separate investigation into the funding of election campaigns in 2014 and 2015. However, both deny they have done anything wrong, and have instead attacked the investigations as being politically charged and calling for them to be postponed or scrapped.

Suspension

French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that there was no law allowing for a suspension like that.‘What would be the reason? In the name of what exception? In my opinion, nothing could justify it,’ he said.Le Pen's personal assistant Catherine Griset was charged last week with breach of trust in a probe into allegations the party defrauded the European Parliament of about 340,000 euros ($360,000). Legal sources have been reported as saying that a confidant had been charged with making an illegal loan to her party.

Family fake jobs charges

Fillon meanwhile faces a fraught two months ahead of the vote after French prosecutors decided on Friday to launch a full judicial inquiry into claims he paid his family for fake parliamentary jobs. He will be investigated by three magistrates over allegations of embezzling public funds and misappropriating corporate assets. Since January he has been fighting claims that he used allowances to pay his wife Penelope at least €680,000 ($720,000) over some 15 years as a parliamentary aide.Although employing family members is permitted, it remains unclear what work his wife undertook and it has also been noted that she did not have a pass for the parliament building. Source: World Bulletin

 
   
 
 
 

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