French court upholds prison sentence of former Prime Minister François Fillon

A Paris appeal court on Monday upheld but reduced the prison sentence of former French Prime Minister François Fillon, over the so-called fake jobs scandal.

Fillon was initially sentenced in June 2020 to five years in prison, including three suspended, for embezzling public funds but the appeal court cut that to four years in prison, three of which are suspended. It is unlikely that Fillon will spend time in prison, as he can be ordered to instead wear a monitoring ankle bracelet.

Fillon appealed last November and, though the court shortened the sentence, it upheld a €375,000 fine and barred him from holding public office for 10 years. Fillon’s wife, Penelope, also had her sentence shortened from three to two years suspended.

The Fillons and the ex-prime minister’s former deputy Marc Joulaud had been on trial following revelations in 2017 of creating “fake jobs” that paid Penelope Fillon about €1 million in public funds for doing little if any work.

Only some of the contracts for which the former prime minister and his wife were on trial for have been recognized as fraudulent by the appeal court.

The “Penelopegate” scandal wrecked Fillon’s presidential campaign in 2017, with the conservative candidate then leading the polls in the race for the Elysée Palace.

Penelope Fillon was hired as a parliamentary assistant and also had a job as a consultant at a magazine. Since his retirement from politics, Fillon sparked criticism by taking positions on the boards of a Russian oil company, Zaroubejneft, and a Russian petrochemical company Sibur. He left both positions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.