Posts Tagged ‘fake jobs’

France’s National Front charged over EU ‘fake jobs’

December 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Marine Le Pen leads the FN, which is accused of illegally claiming millions of euros from the European Parliament in funds earmarked for parliamentary assistants, to pay France-based staff instead

PARIS (AFP) – rance’s far-right National Front (FN) has been charged with giving party members suspected fake jobs as assistants at the European Parliament, the party said Tuesday.Confirming a report in Le Monde newspaper, FN treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just said the charges brought by French prosecutors on November 30 were the “natural follow-on” from the charges laid against party leader Marine Le Pen in June.

The FN is accused of illegally claiming millions of euros from the European Parliament in funds earmarked for parliamentary assistants, to pay France-based staff instead.

In a statement Tuesday the party said it would prove “that it did not embezzle a penny”.

Le Pen, who was beaten by Emmanuel Macron in May’s presidential election run-off, has also denied the charges.

She is one of 17 FN lawmakers — along with her estranged father Jean-Marie Le Pen and her partner, FN vice-president Louis Aliot — being investigated over salaries paid to around 40 parliamentary assistants.

The affair first made headlines during the election but took a back seat to the scandal ensnaring Le Pen’s conservative rival Francois Fillon.

Fillon, the one-time favourite, crashed out of the election at the first round after it emerged that his wife was paid nearly 700,000 euros for a suspected fake job as a French parliamentary assistant.

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French defence minister quits over new EU fake jobs inquiry

June 20, 2017

AFP

© Bertrand Guay, AFP | Former French defence minister Sylvie Goulard during a ceremony in the Paris suburb of Suresnes on June 18, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-20

French Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard announced her resignation on Tuesday over a fake jobs scandal that has hit her small centrist MoDem party, allied with President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

Goulard, who was previously a member of the European Parliament, said she could not remain in the government while there was a possibility that she could be investigated over alleged misuse of expenses at that parliament.

Her resignation comes as Macron carries out a minor reshuffle of his government following parliamentary elections on Sunday which handed him and his allies MoDem a commanding majority.

François Bayrou, Justice Minister, Marielle de Sarnez, State Sec for EU, are both cited in the case & could be forced to step down.

“Old” politics coming back to bite Rep. en Marche! And a real question of the usefulness/efficiency of ex ante verification…

Goulard had only been in the defence job for a month following Macron’s election to the presidency.

But she said the possibility of an investigation made it difficult for her to stay in the post given Macron’s agenda to clean up politics.

“The president is committed to restoring confidence in public office, reforming France and relaunching Europe,” she said in a statement.

“This reform agenda must take precedence over any personal considerations.

“That is why I have asked the president, with the agreement of the prime minister, to leave the government.”

Earlier this month, Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into claims in the Canard Enchaine newspaper that MoDem was using European parliamentary funds to pay staff based in France.

MoDem’s leader Francois Bayrou was a key backer of Macron’s one-year-old Republic on the Move (REM) during the presidential campaign and whose support was crucial in winning centrist votes for the new president.

French Socialist candidate livid as ex-PM Valls defects to Macron

March 29, 2017
By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta
Reuters — March 29, 2017
French Socialist candidate livid as ex-PM Valls defects to Macron

By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) – Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday he would vote for Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election, becoming the biggest Socialist Party name to turn his back on its official candidate and support the centrist instead.

While it was not clear if Valls’ defection would benefit poll favourite Macron, who politely thanked Valls, it prompted angry responses from many Socialists and media speculation about the survival of the largest left-wing party.

Manuel Valls (R) with Emmanuel Macron - file pic 2014
Manuel Valls (R) said it was a responsible position to back the centrist candidate

France’s ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls has thrown his weight behind the centrist candidate for the presidency, Emmanuel Macron, and not his own Socialist party’s candidate.

Valls, whose announcement came days after veteran Socialist defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian deserted to Macron, said he wanted to do all he could to ensure that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, second-placed in opinion polls, did not win power.

“I’m not going to take any risks,” Valls said, adding that he believed Le Pen’s score potential was seriously underrated. “I will vote for Emmanuel Macron,” he told BFM TV.

French opinion polls show Macron winning the presidency in a second-round vote on May 7 where he would face off against Le Pen. They show Socialist Benoit Hamon set for a humiliating fifth place in the first round eliminator on April 23.

Hamon, a hardline Socialist who wants to legalise cannabis and create a monthly state payment for all, is on course to win only 10 percent of the vote in the first round, according to an Elabe poll published on Wednesday.

Hamon denounced Valls’ defection and called on all left-wingers to unite behind him 25 days from round one of the election. “I urge you to sanction those who’ve started this morbid game…those who no longer believe in anything,” he said in a statement.

Valls said his choice did not mean he would campaign for the 39-year-old Macron – a fellow minister in President Francois Hollande’s government from 2014, but who quit last year to prepare a presidential bid under his own political banner En Marche! (Onwards!).

Valls, who lost to radical left-winger Hamon in the Socialist primaries, is seen by political sources and experts as likely to wait in the wings and seek to build a reformist parliamentary force that would be distinct from En Marche!, but which could get a say in its parliamentary majority should Macron become president.

“I have nothing to negotiate and am not asking for anything, I’m not joining his camp,” Valls said. “But nothing will be the same after this presidential election…The duty of reformists is to play their part in a governing parliamentary majority.”

Macron, who has drawn support from the political right as well as left, was also quick to say he did not plan to bring Valls into his government. “I shall be the guarantor of new faces, new ways of doing things,” he said on Europe 1 Radio.

The news came a day after third-placed candidate Francois Fillon, under formal judicial investigation on suspicion of financial impropriety, suffered a further blow when his British wife Penelope was put under formal investigation as well.

The inquiry centres on allegations that the couple misused hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds, with him paying her a lavish tax-funded salary for minimal work as his parliamentary assistant.

Francois Fillon has conceded what he called errors of judgment but denies doing anything illegal.

“NO HONOUR”

Valls’ endorsement is a mixed blessing for Macron, even though their political views are not far apart.

Fillon, who has promised to slash government spending, seized on Valls’ move to say their would be no break with the past under Macron as both men were key ministers under Hollande.

“All of Hollande’s team is backing Emmanuel Macron. It’s as I’ve always said, Emmanuel Macron is Francois Hollande,” Fillon told reporters.

For many Socialists, and above all candidate Hamon, Valls’ decision comes from a man who represents Hollande’s rightward turn during his five-year mandate towards the business-friendly reforms that upset the left and alienated core voters.

The blow for Hamon clearly compounded existing left-right splits within the party.

“Everybody now knows what a commitment signed by a man like Manuel Valls is worth,” Arnaud Montebourg, a more hardline leftist in the Socialist Party, said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michel Rose and Leigh Thomas; writing by Andrew Callus and Brian Love editing by Mark Heinrich)

French presidential candidate Fillon’s wife charged over fake job scandal

March 28, 2017

AFP

© Thomas Samson, AFP | Penelope Fillon, the wife of French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Républicains party, walks to her apartment building in Paris, on March 28, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-28

French magistrates placed the wife of conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon under formal investigation Tuesday over allegations she was paid hundreds of thousands of euros of public funds for work she did not do, a judicial source said.

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British-born Penelope Fillon will be investigated on suspicion of complicity in misappropriating public funds, the source said.

The decision, which comes two weeks after Fillon himself was placed under formal investigation in the same case, is another blow to his faltering presidential campaign.

Wife of France’s embattled Fillon insists she worked for him — Penelope The Resolute

March 5, 2017

AFP

© Jean-François Monier, AFP file picture | Penelope Fillon on Saturday broke the silence on the scandal for the first time

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-05

French conservative candidate Francois Fillon battled to keep his presidential hopes alive ahead of a major rally Sunday as his wife broke her silence over the “fake jobs” scandal that has threatened to engulf his election bid.

Fillon, who turned 63 on Saturday, has struggled to turn the page on a nightmare week that saw a haemorrhage of support after he disclosed he would face charges over allegations he gave his family fake parliamentary jobs.

In her first interview since the allegations broke, British-born Penelope Fillon told Le Journal du Dimanche she had carried out “a lot of different tasks” for her husband and urged him to “keep going to the end”.

Fillon was the frontrunner until mid-January when the Canard Enchaine newspaper alleged he paid his wife and two of their children nearly 900,000 euros ($950,000) as parliamentary assistants or advisors.

French lawmakers are allowed to employ family members, but investigators are searching for evidence of what work she did.

“He needed someone to do a lot of different tasks, and if it wasn’t for me, he would have paid someone to do it, so we decided it would be me,” Penelope told Le Journal du Dimanche.

With pressure building on Fillon, Penelope said she had urged her husband to keep going.

“I said to him that he had to keep going to the end. Every day I told him that” but “it’s up to him to decide”, she told the weekly newspaper.

Fillon, who turned 63 on Saturday, has struggled to turn the page on a nightmare week that saw a haemorrhage of support after he disclosed he would face charges over the allegations.

The former prime minister has claimed that the accusations are politically motivated, even hinting he believes the ruling Socialist government is behind the investigation.

His own right-wing Republicans party announced that its political decision-making body would meet Monday evening — a day earlier than planned — “to evaluate the situation”.

It also emerged that police raided the Fillons’ country manor house near the northwestern town of Le Mans on Friday looking for evidence. The couple’s Paris apartment was searched on Thursday.

With some members of his own party urging him to drop out, Fillon will attempt to regain the initiative with a major rally Sunday near the Eiffel Tower in what appears to be a last ditch effort to stay in the race.

The danger for the right is that he could be eliminated in the first round of the two-stage contest on April 23.

Opinion polls currently show that far-right leader Marine Le Pen and 39-year-old centrist Emmanuel Macron would progress to contest the runoff on May 7.

Walkouts

On Wednesday, Fillon revealed he would meet investigating magistrates on March 15 and be placed under formal investigation — the equivalent under French law of being charged.

He had previously said he would step down if such a development happened. But, to the dismay of many of his aides, he angrily accused the judicial system of bias and vowed to fight on.

Among those who walked out were his foreign affairs point man and campaign spokesman, and the leader of the small centrist UDI party said it was withdrawing its backing.

On Saturday, five members of the European parliament from the Republicans also withdrew their support and called for another candidate to be quickly appointed.

With just seven weeks to go before polling day, the entourage of 71-year-old former premier Alain Juppe has said he is prepared to take over.

Juppe, who is more centrist than Fillon, was given a suspended jail sentence in 2004 over a party funding scandal.

Juppe popularity

A poll on Friday showed Juppe would vault into the lead if he stood.

Juppe would have 26.5 percent of votes, narrowly ahead of Macron on 25 percent, while Le Pen would slip to third place on 24 percent, according to the Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting survey of 943 people.

Le Pen, 48, campaigning on an anti-immigration and anti-EU platform, has sought to capitalise on the anti-establishment sentiment that propelled US President Donald Trump to power and led to the British vote to leave the European Union.

Polls currently show however that the National Front chief will be beaten in the second round by either the fast-rising Macron or the conservative candidate.

Police search French far-right party’s HQ in EU parliament jobs probe

February 20, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© AFP archive

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-02-20

French police were searching the headquarters of Marine Le Pen’s National Front party west of Paris on Monday in relation to a probe into alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants, an FN official told Reuters.

“It looks on the face of it like a media operation whose goal is to disturb the course of the presidential campaign,” the National Front said in a statement.

The European parliament has said that, in her role as French National Front leader, Le Pen had during the 2011-12 legislature paid party staff with EU funds, which EU rules say should be used only to pay EU lawmakers’ assistants.