Former French PM found guilty over wife's 'fake job' scandal

French ex-prime minister Fillon wife found guilty of fraud

His wife Penelope, who was found guilty of compicity to embezzle and hide public money, was given a three-year suspended jail term and fined the same amount.

Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, three of them suspended, as well as a fine of 375,000 euros ($423,000) and a ten -year ban on running for elections.

Defence lawyers struggled at the trial this year to provide documented proof that she actually did any work - and the head of the magazine, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, had already pleaded guilty to the fake job charges.

Both must also pay fines of €375,000.

The court on Monday also sentenced Fillon's wife Penelope, a suspended three-year sentence for participating in a scheme that saw her paid over a million euros in public funds over a 15-year period. Penelope Fillon was found guilty of complicity in her husband's crime, and of receiving stolen funds. She was given a three-year suspended sentence and fined the same amount.

The politician's lawyers meanwhile denounced the court decision as "unfair" and exceedingly "harsh", adding that the couple will appeal it and "there will be a new trial".

In a scathing ruling, the chief judge said Fillon, 66, had eroded public trust in the political class as a result of paying his wife a salary that was disproportionate to the work done.

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After deciding to support her husband's career when he was first elected as a French politician in 1981, Mrs Fillon said she had been offered different types of contracts as a parliamentary assistant, depending on her husband's political career.

The case ruined Fillon's 2017 presidential bid, at a time when he was widely tipped to result as the victor, paving the way for Emmanuel Macron's election.

Prosecutors had pointed to the lack of actual evidence of her work, including the absence of declarations for any paid vacations or maternity leave.

She described her duties as writing reports about local issues, opening the mail, meeting with residents and helping to prepare speeches for local events.

He was additionally accused of getting the millionaire owner of a literary magazine to pay his wife €135,000 for "consulting work".

He was also handed a three year suspended sentence.

A consummate political insider who was prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, Fillon had been the frontrunner in the 2017 election race when the allegations surfaced. He was also a minister under two previous presidents, Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac. She said working that way allowed her to have a flexible schedule and raise their five children in the Fillons' countryside manor.

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