Former French Prime Minister François Fillon is facing a fresh "fake job" investigation, according to his lawyer.
The investigation will focus on the employment contract of the former PM's parliamentary assistant Maël Renouard, who worked for him between 2013 and 2015.
Renouard had reportedly been hired to write Fillon's presidential candidate book before the 2017 election.
The book -- entitled "Faire" -- was published under Fillon's name in September 2015 and sold more than 100,000 copies. According to French media, the sales earned up to €250,000.
Investigators are now examining whether Renouard's salary should have been used for this purpose.
The Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Offences is working to establish whether the €38,000 of public money earned by Renouard could be justified and if he actually worked as a parliamentary assistant.
Magistrates can decide to open a judicial probe and summon Fillon before a Paris criminal court or close the investigation.
The former PM's lawyer has dismissed the investigation as "purely artificial".
"It is staggering to claim that a parliamentary aide cannot participate in the writing of a political book by a member of parliament," Antonin Levy told AFP.
Fillon was first accused of "misappropriation of public funds" by France's National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) in 2017.
Fillon served as France's prime minister between 2007 and 2012 during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.
He was already convicted in 2020 in a similar case involving his wife's fictitious employment, which severely damaged his 2017 Republican party presidential campaign.
The former PM has appealed against his conviction and will face a new trial in November.