The Financial Times reports that François Fillon, the French centre-right presidential nominee, has been placed under formal investigation in a judicial probe looking into embezzlement allegations.

From the Financial Times

Fillon met the investigative judges on Tuesday morning, one day earlier than the date set for the meeting, to avoid media attention, a spokeswoman for his campaign said.

Mr. Fillon has been embroiled in the affair since weekly satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné alleged in January that the candidate had misused more than €880,000 in state funds by employing his wife Penelope and two of his children in jobs as parliamentary aides that did not exist.

On Tuesday, Le Parisien newspaper reported that large amounts of the salary paid to Mr. Fillon’s children were wired back to Mr. and Mrs. Fillon’s bank account. Marie Fillon, the candidate’s daughter, told investigators she was paying her parents back for the costs of her wedding. Mr. Fillon’s lawyer told the newspaper that Charles, the candidate’s son, was paying back pocket and living costs.

The embezzlement allegations have dented support for Mr. Fillon, a one-time frontrunner now in third place in the polls.

Additional Charges

In addition to misuse of public funds, Fillon was also charged with complicity in the misuse of company assets and failure to comply with the transparency requirement for public officials, according to prosecutors. In his statement to the magistrates, published online by Le Figaro newspaper, Fillon said there was ample evidence that his wife had helped manage his agenda, correspondence and contacts with local voters.

All the same, Fillon may yet escape a trial — it typically takes several more months before judges decide whether to send the case for trial or to dismiss it. Though that decision will likely come after the election.

The above snip from Bloomberg.

Anti-Corruption Platform

Recall that Fillon is running on an anti-corruption platform. He promised to restore high ethical standards in politics.

Fillon is now embroiled in four scandals, some of them very serious. For details please see Fillongate Four Ways (Penelopegate, Loangate, Suitgate, Nosegate): Right Message, Wrong Time.

Finally, please recall that Fillon stated that he would stand down if a formal investigation was announced. Now, Fillon calls the investigation a “political assassination” and a challenge to the democratic process.

Ethics indeed.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock