The Welsh-born wife of a French presidential candidate is facing at least 10 years in jail after being charged with criminal offences. Penelope Fillon, 61, spent more than 13 hours being grilled by three Paris judges investigating a fake jobs scandal that has been dubbed Penelopegate.
Her husband Francois Fillon, the conservative Republicans party candidate to become head of state, was indicted earlier this month.
Now Ms Fillon has been formally accused of embezzlement of public funds, which carries a 10 year sentence and a £130,000 fine, misappropriation of public funds (5 years, and a £325,000 fine) and aggravated fraud (5 years and a £325,000 fine).
It follows revelations that Ms Fillon, a solicitor’s daughter and devout Roman Catholic, never once set foot in the two offices where she earned hundreds of thousands as a highly-paid employee.
Rather than assist Ms Fillon with her ordeal in Paris today, 63-year-old Mr Fillon continued with his election campaign, as aides said it was ‘business as usual’.
She has consistently denied any wrongdoing but admits that she was a parliamentary assistant to her husband while never actually spending any time at all in the French parliament, where she earned a take home salary totally some £590,000 over three decades.
When investigators expressed incredulity that Ms Fillon could earn so much money from two organisations while staying at home, she replied that this was due to her ‘wish to remain in the shadows, because of my character.’
Police were particularly astonished that Ms Fillon claimed to have worked for five years in her home in the Sarthe while her husband was a minister in Paris.
In fact she was living in the French capital too at the time, although she insisted: ‘I took the mail received at home at the weekend back to Paris to deal with there.’