French presidential candidate Francois Fillon charged in jobs investigation

Once the front-runner in France's presidential election, mainstream conservative candidate Francois Fillon is now confronting serious doubts he will even make it to the final round of voting.

François Fillon, the French centre-right presidential nominee, has been placed under formal investigation - legally one step short of being charged - as a part of a judicial probe looking in allegations of embezzlement.

The weekly gave no further details.

Fillon's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment and there was no immediate comment from the candidate himself.

Presidential candidate #Fillon put under formal fraud investigation March 14, BBC.

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Many like his foreign affairs spokesman Bruno Le Maire were furious Fillon had initially said he would step down if mise en examen, the nearest French equivalent to being charged.

Prosecutors began looking into Fillon in January, when it was reported that his wife earned almost 1 million Euros for a job as a parliamentary assistant, which reports claim she did not do.

It alleged that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for work which she might not have done.

"Those who don't respect the laws of the Republic should not be allowed to run".

FRANCOIS Fillon came from the shadows to become a key player in the race to the French Presidency - knocking out Nicolas Sarkozy in the process.

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The announcement coincided with media revelations that his children transferred back to him large amounts of money he paid them, and news of a parallel inquiry by the ethics ombudsman of parliament into a 13,000 euro ($13,800) gift of two suits Fillon accepted in February, after the initial scandal erupted.

Mr Fillon's presidential campaign has taken a huge nosedive since the scandal broke in late January.

They tweeted a caricature of his main rival-centrist Emmanuel Macron-that Fillon himself said appeared anti-Semitic.

Business France, a French public agency, is suspected of choosing French communications group Havas for organizing the event without seeking a bid. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen who is campaigning on a nationalist, anti-immigration platform is facing allegations she underpaid taxes on a mansion that she and her father own.

Mr Fillon is now predicted by surveys to attract 20 per cent of the votes in the first round on April 23, not enough to qualify for the run-off round on May 7.

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