France's Fillon faces further legal process in fake work probe: report

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France’s financial prosecutor will take further legal steps this week in its investigation into allegations of fake work by presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s wife, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Journal de Dimanche cited unidentified sources saying the proceedings would involve both Fillon and his British wife Penelope.
Reuters was seeking to confirm the report but could not immediately reach either the prosecutor or officials representing conservative candidate Fillon. 
The couples’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a message requesting a response. Fillon has confirmed that his wife was paid, but has said the work was genuine. His lawyers have questioned the legal legitimacy of the financial prosecutor.
Fillon is fighting to keep his presidential campaign alive.
Opinion polls since the scandal broke almost three weeks ago show him slipping out of the race, with voters turned off by the probe into a report by the Canard Enchaine satirical weekly that his wife was paid hundreds of thousands of euros in taxpayers money for work she may not have done.
The polls, which before the affair saw him as favorite to win the presidency, show the 62 year-old former prime minister coming a close third in the first round on April 23, which would leave first and second placed Marine Le Pen of the National Front and centrist Emmanuel Macron to contest the May 7 second round – a runoff they show Macron winning comfortably.
According to the newspaper, there are two potential routes the prosecutor will take.
The first would be to refer the case to an investigating magistrate, whose role is to decide whether a person or people should be put under formal investigation.
Sometimes these referrals can be brought against ‘X’ – an unnamed party, but in this case, the newspaper said, it would involve named parties.
The second route would be to put the case directly before a criminal court. Under this scenario, the newspaper said, proceedings could start at the earliest within 11 days.
While campaigning for the ticket to represent his party, Fillon emphasized that he had a clean judicial record and that he would cut back on wasteful government spending. He has said he would stand down should he be put under formal investigation in connection with the fake work scandal.
Should The Republicans party need to choose a new candidate, the cut-off date for the collection of signatures is March 17.
 

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