An Appeals Court confirmed the conviction of former Prime Minister François Fillon and his wife for her fictitious employment when he was a member of parliament, sentencing him to four years in prison.
The scandal known as “PenelopeGate” broke in 2017 when Fillon was a candidate for the right-wing Les Républicains in the presidential elections. He was defeated in the first round and then announced his withdrawal from politics.
Fillon’s wife, Penelope, is accused of having benefited from three fictitious jobs as a parliamentary assistant to Fillon and his deputy between 1998 and 2013, during which she was paid more than €600,000.
In 2020, a lower court sentenced Fillon to five years in prison and a €375,000 fine. The court also barred him from holding public office for the next ten years due to his “misappropriation of public funds, complicity and concealment of misuse of social assets.” His wife was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence, a €375,000 fine and was barred from exercising in public office for two years.
On appeal, the Paris Court confirmed the lower court’s sentence for the embezzlement charge but reduced sentences respectively to four years and two years suspended. The amount of the fine remains unchanged.
The couple has contested the merits of the charge from the outset, alleging that Penelope’s work was real even if it took place “on the ground” and not at the National Assembly.
Both have announced that they are appealing the court’s decision before the Court of Cassation.