PARIS – The Latest on claims of wrongdoing against French presidential candidate Francois Fillon and his family (all times local):
A person close to the investigation tells The Associated Press that French prosecutors have extended their embezzlement probe of presidential candidate Francois Fillon to cover two of his children.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, because they were barred from discussing the investigation publicly. The person said the probe is now also looking at Fillon's daughter, Marie, and son, Charles.
The Canard Enchaine weekly has reported that they were hired by Fillon as parliamentary aides when he was a French senator in 2005-2007, earning 84,000 euros ($91,000) in total.
Fillon has said he paid two of his children, "who were lawyers," for "specific assignments" when he was a senator. However, Marie and Charles still were in law school when they worked for their father, French media reported. According to Le Canard Enchaine, they drew paychecks not for assignments, but two full-time jobs.
Francois Fillon's embattled right-wing candidacy for the French presidency faced more revelations Thursday casting doubt on the legitimacy of his wife's taxpayer-funded work and fueling questions about whether the former front-runner's campaign is now damaged beyond repair.
Allegations that Penelope Fillon was handsomely paid as a parliamentary aide, first reported by French weekly Canard Enchaine and now being investigated by French prosecutors to see whether the work was genuine, have thrown open the presidential race that had been shaping up as a two-horse race between the ex-prime minister and the far-right's Marine Le Pen.
France Televisions said it would screen extracts Thursday evening from an interview with Penelope Fillon in 2007, when her husband was prime minister, in which said she had never worked as his assistant.
That appears to contradict the couple's defense in recent days that she was legitimately employed as his parliamentary aide.
The allegations that Fillon's family used his political connections to enrich themselves with cushy parliamentary jobs have been particularly damaging for his image as an upstanding Catholic family man and country gentleman untainted by the long history of sleaze in French politics.