Anti-fraud prosecutors suspect that the writer, Mael Renouard, who was hired as Fillon’s parliamentary assistant from 2013 to 2015, was in fact working on Fillon’s book setting out his campaign manifesto for his 2017 run at the presidency.
The inquiry comes as the former right-wing heavyweight is facing a two-year prison sentence handed down last year over a fake parliamentary aide job for his Welsh-born wife Penelope.
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Investigators found that she was paid over one million euros in public funds earmarked for parliamentary assistants, despite scant proof of any actual work or even her presence at the National Assembly in Paris.
The revelations torpedoed Fillon’s chances at seizing the presidency and cleared the way for centrist Emmanuel Macron to claim a sweeping victory from which both Fillon’s Republicans as well as the Socialists are still struggling to recover.
According to RTL radio, which first reported the new allegations, Renouard was paid €38,000 in public money, a sum that aroused the suspicions of France’s OCLCIFF anti-corruption agency.
Fillon was questioned over the payments by the national anti-fraud prosecutors’ office (PNF) earlier this year, the source said.
“This inquiry is purely an artificial creation by the PNF that persists in keeping baseless cases open, and conveniently leaks them a few weeks before his coming appeal trial,” Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy told AFP.
The appeal trial is set for November.