Embattled French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is known to shop at the stylish Parisian boutique ‘Arnys’, but several French news organisations are reporting that he may not be the one paying for his high-end threads.
Since 2012, Le JDD reports on its website Fillon has been offered up to €48,500 worth of suits, blazers, and other clothes. It also alleges that as much as €35,500 of the total was paid in cash.
‘Arnys’, the boutique that once dressed American artist Andy Warhol among others, describes itself as supplying clothes for the ‘chic farmer’, and is located in Paris’ 7th arrondissement.
In early February, less than a fortnight after the start of the so-called ‘Penelopegate’ probe into payments made to Fillon’s wife for work she allegedly did not complete, it was reported that Fillon collected two suits. The suits were paid for by cheque, and the bill amounted to €19,500. Le JDD says this cheque was paid for by “a generous friend”.
When questioned about the apparent gifts, the Republicains candidate told Le Parisien:, “A friend offered me clothes… So what?”.
Asked about the apparent accepting of these high-value gifts, a spokesperson for Fillon said they were “surprised”. They later questioned “how far these malicious intrusions into (Fillon’s) private life will go?”.
However, they added that it “is true that one of his friends offered him (clothes) in February, which is not reprehensible”. But the aide also described allegations that some of the payments were made in cash as “totally extravagant”, arguing “no serious store accepts cash payments for such amounts”.
Fillon, in an interview with Le Parisien paper, said “I see that my privacy is being investigated… and this treatment is reserved for me. Who is trying to hurt me, I do not know”.
Fillon’s spokesman Luc Chatel reacted angrily to the report, denouncing what he called a “gutter campaign” against the candidate.
President of the parliamentary Socialist Group Olivier Faure asked on Twitter, “Did Fillon declare these gifts to the Ethics Officer?”.
Que pense Le déontologue d'un député qui se fait offrir 50 000€ de costumes quand la règle est de refuser les cadeaux de plus de 150€?— Olivier Faure (@faureolivier) March 12, 2017
A 2011 ruling makes it mandatory for MPs to declare gifts worth €150 or more. However, according to the Ethics Office itself, such declarations are rare. There were only 19 between June 2015 and November 2016, 12 of which were invitations to sporting events.
When contacted, the management of Arnys had “nothing to say about” the payments.