Fillon under formal investigation for fake jobs scandal

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, facing charges in an investigation of taxpayer-funded jobs his wife and children received but allegedly never performed, says the justice system is being manipulated to affect the election.

He was also charged with misuse of corporate assets, Levy said.

The person who signed the cheques paying for the suit, who was not identified, told the paper that he paid "at the request" of Fillon, adding: "without receiving the slightest thanks since then", the Telegraph reported.

"My wife's job as parliamentary aide was not fictitious and it is not up to the judicial authority to assess the quality or content of this work", Fillon said in a statement to judges obtained by local media.

Financial prosecutors said the 63-year-old faces trial and, if he is found guilty of swindling hundreds of thousands of pounds over three decades, a prison sentence.

Fillon, the conservative head of the French Republican Party elected instead of Sarkozy, was questioned in relation to the 'fake jobs scandal'.

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Fillon's family members insist they did the work for which they were generously paid.

Once a front-runner of the presidential campaign, Fillon has seen his popularity drop following successive waves of unflattering revelations in French newspaper reports since January. He has been stuck in third place in opinion polls since the allegations surfaced, behind far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

If Fillon can take some small solace, it's that he is not alone among the candidates in drawing investigators' scrutiny.

He again brushed the debacle aside on Monday, saying: "In democracy, there is only one thing that matters, it's the will of the people".

Earlier this month, the European Parliament lifted Ms Le Pen's immunity from prosecution after she tweeted pictures of so-called Islamic State violence.

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  • Megan Austin