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France's Fillon probe into "fake job" now includes children

France's Fillon probe into "fake job" now includes childrenFrench investigators have widened an investigation into allegations that presidential candidate Francois Fillon paid large sums of money to members of his family for work they may not have done, to include two of his children, according to media reports on Thursday.

Reuters cited the sources, who are close to the inquiry, as saying the investigation was being extended to look at work carried out by Marie and Charles Fillon for their father.

Marie and Charles were working as assistants when Fillon was serving in the French Senate. He told French TV last week that he had hired his children for their expertise as lawyers. But it emerged that they were in fact students at the time, and had not qualified as lawyers. They were paid €84,000 between them from public funds, the Canard Enchaîné alleged.

Fillon has steadily lost ground in opinion polls after newspaper Le Canard Enchaine first reported on January 25 that the former prime minister had paid his wife Penelope 500,000 euros ($540,250) for work for him that she did not appear to have done.

Pressure on Fillon intensified after one of France’s main investigative news programmes, Envoyé Special, unearthed previously unseen footage of Penelope Fillon telling a journalist she had never worked for her husband. In the 2007 footage for the Sunday Telegraph, she told Kim Willsher, now a correspondent for the Guardian in Paris:“I have never actually been his (Fillon’s) assistant or anything like that.”

Penelope Fillon’s lawyer, Pierre Cornut-Gentille, told Agence France-Presse that isolated phrases should not be taken out of context and said his client have given investigators “all the details showing the existence of an actual job”.
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