Francois Fillon. Picture: REUTERS
Francois Fillon. Picture: REUTERS

Paris — Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s woes piled up on Thursday, when France’s financial prosecutor chose to pursue a probe into the work scandal that has dogged him and as far-right rival Marine Le Pen gained in the polls.

Two polls showed Fillon being knocked out in the first round of the two-part vote. Le Pen has moved up in the polls but remains well behind.

Prosecutor Eliane Houlette said after receiving a police report that she was keeping open an investigation into the Fillon jobs scandal.

Fillon’s status as favourite to win the presidency in May has evaporated in the past three weeks over whether or not his wife did real work for hundreds of thousands of euros in taxpayers’ money when she was paid as his assistant.

"It is my duty to affirm that the numerous elements collected [by investigators] do not, at this stage, permit the case to be dropped," Houlette said after receiving an initial police report on whether public funds
were misused.

Houlette did not announce further steps.

Among Houlette’s choices are dropping the case, taking it further by appointing an investigating magistrate or sending it straight to trial.

A source close to the case said it now looked unlikely that the financial prosecution service would drop the case.


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