02:08 GMT26 February 2020
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    The French financial prosecutor's office launched an official investigation on Friday into an allegedly fake employment of The Republicans' nominee Francois Fillon's wife, local media reported.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The investigation is devoted to assignment of state funds, complicity, concealment of offenses and trading in influence, Le Parisien newspaper said, citing the PNF communique.

    According to the media outlet, the investigation will now be entrusted to one or several Parisian investigators, who will have some extensive powers including wiretapping telephone calls and placement of suspects under house arrest.

    The financial prosecutors opened an inquiry into Fillon's wife case on January 25 after the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine reported that she had been paid up to $8,500 per month during her time as her husband’s assistant between 1998 and 2012 and received a $5,400 gross monthly salary at the magazine, owned by Fillon's friend. Le Canard Enchaine also claimed that the children of the couple, who worked as his assistants between 2005 and 2007 at the upper house of the French parliament, had earned about $90,700, though it was unclear whether Fillon's children had really exercised their job responsibilities.

    The center-right candidate has repeatedly denied all accusations and pledged to continue fighting. Though his popularity significantly dropped due to the scandal, Fillon said on Tuesday that he excluded candidacy withdrawal from the presidential race.

    The first round of the French presidential elections is scheduled for April 23, with the run-off set for May 7.

    Related:

    Le Pen Likely to Beat Macron in 1st Round of French Election If Fillon Drops Out
    French National Front VP Calls on Fillon to Withdraw From Presidential Race
    Fillon Excludes Candidacy Withdrawal From Presidential Elections
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    investigation, Francois Fillon, France
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