François Fillon: Former French PM loses appeal against corruption conviction

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By Euronews  with AFP
Francois Fillon was found to have given his wife Penelope a "fake job" as a parliamentary assistant.
Francois Fillon was found to have given his wife Penelope a "fake job" as a parliamentary assistant.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File

France's former prime minister François Fillon has lost his appeal against a corruption conviction over a "fake jobs" scandal that ended his political career.

A Paris court handed Fillon a reduced four-year sentence in total on Monday -- including one year in prison -- and a fine of €375,000.

He had initially been given a five-year sentence but has now been banned from holding public office for 10 years.

Fillon's wife Penelope was meanwhile given a two-year suspended prison sentence, his former deputy Marc Joulaud was given a three-year suspended term. Penelope Fillon was fined €375,000 and both were disqualified for two and five years respectively.

The three defendants were also told to pay around €800,000 further to France's National Assembly.

Lawyers for the former prime minister have indicated that they will appeal the verdict to France's Supreme Court.

The so-called "Penelopegate" scandal broke out as Fillon was campaigning ahead of France's 2017 presidential elections.

Fillon -- who had served as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 -- was found to have set his wife up with lucrative fake jobs.

Prosecutors argued that Penelope had been employed in an "intangible" or "tenuous" role as a parliamentary assistant to Fillon and Jouard between 1998 and 2013.

Fillon has admitted that he "certainly made mistakes" but has denied trying to cheat taxpayers by using funds to enrich his family. The 68-year-old has continually argued that his wife's work in Sarthe was "immaterial" but very "real".

Fillon's lawyer says the former PM is also facing a fresh "fake job" investigation related to his former parliamentary assistant Maël Renouard, who had allegedly been hired to write his presidential candidate book.

The 2017 election was eventually won by France's incumbent president Emmanuel Macron.