SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

French billionnaire ‘charged over the Fillon fake jobs scandal’

French billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere has been charged over a fake jobs scandal that embroiled defeated rightwing presidential candidate Francois Fillon in January, a report said on Sunday.

French billionnaire 'charged over the Fillon fake jobs scandal'
Francois Fillon pictured during the campaign. Photo: AFP

Ladreit de Lacharriere employed Fillon's wife Penelope at his magazine La Revue des Deux Mondes from May 2012 to December 2013 with a pre-tax monthly salary of 5,000 euros ($5,500) a month.

The businessman, a close friend of Fillon, was summoned by three investigating judges on Friday evening and charged with misuse of corporate assets, the Journal du Dimanche newspaper said.

Fillon and his British-born wife have both been charged after revelations in the newspaper Le Canard Enchaine in January that his wife had been employed as a parliamentary assistant for 15 years.

She is suspected by investigators of having done little or no work for her salary that totalled hundreds of thousands of euros.

During his failed bid for the presidency, ex-prime minister Fillon also admitted taking an interest-free loan of 50,000 euros from Ladreit de Lacharriere without declaring it to a transparency watchdog.

Fillon insists he did nothing wrong and alleged throughout the campaign that the accusations were politically motivated.

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as France's youngest ever president on Sunday after winning the two-stage election on April 23rd and May 7th.

Fillon, the favourite until the revelations about his wife's jobs emerged, was eliminated after finishing third in the first round with 20.01 percent.

READ MORE: The Fillon Fight: A timeline of the extraordinary fake jobs scandal

The Fillon Fight: A timeline of the extraordinary fake jobs scandal
Photo: AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Macron restarts reform drive as opponents prepare for battle

French President Emmanuel Macron will get a taste of public resistance to his second-term reform agenda this week during the first nationwide strike called since his re-election in April.

Macron restarts reform drive as opponents prepare for battle

The 44-year-old head of state has pledged to push ahead with raising the retirement age having backed away from the explosive issue during his first five years in power.

But having lost his parliamentary majority in June, the pro-business centrist faces severe difficulties passing legislation, while galloping inflation is souring the national mood.

Despite warnings from allies about the risk of failure, Macron has tasked his government with hiking the retirement age to 64 or 65 from 62 currently, with changes to start taking effect next year.

“I’m not pre-empting what the government and the parliament will do, but I’m convinced it’s a necessity,” Macron told the BFM news channel last Thursday.

With deficits spiralling and public debt at historic highs, the former investment banker argues that raising the retirement age and getting more people into jobs are the only ways the state can raise revenue without
increasing taxes.

On Thursday, France’s far-left CGT union, backed by left-wing political parties, has organised a national day of strikes, the opening shot in what is expected to be a months-long tussle.

Though the protests were originally planned to demand wage increases, they are now intended to signal broad opposition to the government’s plans.

“We’re against the raising of the retirement age,” Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT, told the LCI broadcaster last week. “The government’s arguments don’t stack up.”   

Unpopular

Public opinion towards pension reform and the strikes is likely to be decisive in determining whether Macron succeeds with a reform he called off in 2020 in the face of protests and Covid-19.

An opinion poll last week from the Odoxa group found that 55 percent of respondents did not want the reform and 67 percent said they were ready to support protests against it.

But a separate survey from the Elabe group gave a more nuanced picture. It also found that only a minority, 21 percent, wanted the retirement age increased, but a total of 56 percent thought the current system no longer worked and 60 percent thought it was financially unsustainable.

“I don’t know anyone who wants to work for longer, but I don’t know anyone who thinks they are not going to work for longer,” a minister close to Macron told AFP last week on condition of anonymity.

“Maybe I’m mistaken but I’m not sure that the turnout will be as large as the unions and LFI are hoping for,” he said, referring to the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) political party that has backed the strikes.

The second decisive factor will be how the government introduces the reform in parliament where Macron’s allies are around 40 seats short of a majority.

Some favour slipping it into a social security budget bill that will be voted on in October — a stealthy move that will be denounced as under-handed by critics.

Others think more time should be taken for consultations with trade unions and opposition parties, even though they have all ruled out working with the government.

Macron prefers the quicker option, one senior MP told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In both scenarios, observers expect the government to resort to a controversial constitutional mechanism called “article 49.3” that allows the executive to ram legislation through the national assembly without a vote.

If opposition parties unite against the measure or call a no-confidence motion in the government, they could trigger new elections.

The reform was “ballsy but dangerous,” one ally told French media last week.

Macron II

Success with the pension reform and separate changes to the unemployment benefits system will help the president re-launch his image as a reformer, experts say.

Since winning a historic second term in April, he has been caught up in the Ukraine war crisis amid reports the parliamentary election setback in June left him disoriented and even depressed.

“We’ve slightly lost the narrative of Macronism,” political scientist Bruno Cautres, a researcher at Sciences Po university in Paris, told AFP recently.

The challenge was giving the second term a “direction” and showing “how it builds on the results of the first”, he said.

“The essence of Macronism, which does not have a long history, is the leader and the programme,” added Benjamin Morel from Paris II university.

Since being elected as France’s youngest-ever president in 2017, Macron has made overhauling social security and workplace regulation part of his political DNA.

“Emmanuel Macron can’t easily back away from a reform because burying a reform, it’s like disavowing himself,” Morel said.

SHOW COMMENTS