French presidential candidate Francois Fillon's wife charged in connection with alleged 'fake jobs' scandal

Francois and Penelope Fillon at a campaign rally. Credit: PA

The wife of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon has been handed preliminary charges in connection with the alleged "fake jobs" scandal.

It is claimed that Mr Fillon employed his wife and two of their children as taxpayer-funded parliamentary aides, but that they never carried out these roles.

The family members were paid more than a million euros over a number of years for the positions.

Mr Fillon has already been charged in the case, which has deeply damaged the conservative candidate's chances for the two-round election on April 23 and May 7.

He is suspected of misusing public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds, complicity in misusing public funds and improper declaration of assets, among other charges.

Investigating judges in Pairs handed Penelope Fillon preliminary charges on Tuesday.

A justice official said she was charged with misuse of public funds, receiving money from a misuse of company assets and receiving money from a fraud.

Investigators recently expanded the probe on suspicion that the couple falsified documents to cover up evidence once the probe opened.

They are also looking into a contract that allowed Mrs Fillon to earn 100,000 euros (£87,000) as a consultant for a literary magazine, La Revue des Deux Mondes.

Media reports suggested that job also was a ruse, saying she wrote only two reviews in 2012-013.

The Fillons have denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Fillon had been the election's front-runner, and has called the investigation a smear campaign to torpedo his candidacy.

He initially said he would withdraw if charged, but has since decided to remain in the race.