French presidential candidate Francois Fillon not only paid his wife for an allegedly fake job as a parliamentary aide, but also employed two of the couple’s children for the same positions, a newspaper has reported.
Altogether, the aide work brought Mr Fillon’s family €914,000, the Canard Enchaine said.
The newspaper reported that Penelope Fillon made more over a longer period than reported previously, putting the figure at €830,000 over 15 years, not the €500,000 over eight years reported last week.
Their daughter Marie and son Charles also were hired by Mr Fillon as parliamentary aides when he was a French senator in 2005-07, earning €84,000 in total, the paper said, adding their actual jobs were “very evanescent”.
The Conservative hopeful, one of the leading contenders in the French presidential election, said he was the victim of a “very professional slander campaign”.
Mr Fillon has said he paid two of his children, “who were lawyers”, for “specific assignments” when he was a senator.
However, Marie and Charles still were in law school when they worked for their father, French news media reported, and according to Le Canard Enchaine, they drew salaries not for “specific assignments”, but two full-time jobs.
Mr Fillon has also said he first officially employed his wife in 1997 and that she had worked for him without pay before then.
The weekly newspaper said Ms Fillon first worked as her husband’s paid parliamentary aide in 1988-90, earning the equivalent of €83,000 over three years.
The Canard also said Mr Fillon rehired her for 18 months after he quit as prime minister and went back to a seat in parliament in May 2012. He has said she was on his payroll for six months during that period.
Last week, the newspaper reported Ms Fillon also earned €100,000 as a consultant for a literary magazine, La Revue des Deux Mondes.
The paper suggested that job also was a ruse, saying she wrote only two reviews in 2012-13.
All figures cited by the Canard Enchaine were pre-tax salaries.
Mr Fillon and his wife are being investigated by France’s national financial prosecutors for suspected embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds after the Canard Enchaine first disclosed so-called “Penelopegate” last week.
The couple were questioned separately by investigators for five hours on Monday. During an evening event on Tuesday, Mr Fillon said he was “confident, unworried” and waiting “for the end of this investigation”.
He said that to his knowledge, it was the first time in recent French history that “a campaign of such magnitude and so professional has been launched to try to eliminate a candidate otherwise than through the democratic way”.
Earlier in the day, his team said Mr Fillon wanted the investigation to advance as quickly as possible over whether his wife worked while being paid as his parliamentary aide. His campaign director, Patrick Stefanini, told reporters that the candidate does not want the investigation to “interfere with the democratic process”.