Former French President to be investigated

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Former French President to be investigated

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon was put under formal investigation by magistrates on Tuesday on suspicion of embezzling state funds, a move that may ruin the right-winger's hopes of winning power in May. A report last month by Le Canard Enchaine accused his wife Penelope of earning €500,000 in parliamentary funds for work she did not do.

The French presidential hopeful will on Wednesday meet with a judge who will determine whether to place him under formal investigation over allegations he misused public funds. It indicates that judges believe they have serious evidence pointing to a crime, despite Mr Fillon denying wrongdoing. He added, "It's not just me they are killing, it is also the presidential election itself".

Fillon's family members insist they did the work for which they were generously paid.

"Those who don't respect the laws of the Republic should not be allowed to run".

Earlier in March, Fillion said that he would remain in the race even if formally charged, leading to the resignation of key advisor Bruno Le Maire from the campaign. Fillon, the conservative head of the French Republican Party elected instead of Sarkozy, was questioned in relation to the 'fake jobs scandal'.

The embarrassment is acute because this is the same Mr Fillon who before the campaign said it would be inconceivable for someone to remain as a candidate if placed in this legal situation, our correspondent adds.

But it's not all rosy.

Financial prosecutors said the 63-year-old faces trial and, if he is found guilty of swindling hundreds of thousands of pounds over three decades, a prison sentence.

Public relations giant Havas was chosen to organize the event, which cost almost 400,000 euros ($425,000), without bids being sought from other companies.

Another top contender also has caught the attention of judicial investigators.

Fillon is up against far-right Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and left-leaning Benoît Hamon & Jean-luc Melenchon respectively.

He first must secure the Presidency, which means facing the leaders of the other parties in a series of election rounds until it is whittled down to a two-horse contest.

Polls show Ms Le Pen is likely to reach the second round of the election. Fillon appears in a position to be eliminated in the first round.

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