French minister probed for hiring daughters as aides

2017-03-21 19:29
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux. (Thomas Samson, AFP)

French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux. (Thomas Samson, AFP)

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Paris - French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux was placed under preliminary investigation on Tuesday for hiring his two daughters as parliamentary aides, prompting comparisons with scandal-hit presidential hopeful Francois Fillon.

Le Roux, 51, was to meet Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later in the day to provide explanations over the latest scandal to hit France's already embattled political class with elections a month away.

Summer holidays

The TMC channel reported late on Monday that Le Roux gave his daughters several short-term contracts between 2009 and 2016 for which they earned a total of €55 000.

The girls were still in school when he first hired them and continued doing work for him - paid with taxpayers' money - when they were in university.

Le Roux, who has denied any wrongdoing, told TMC his daughters had worked for him during their summer holidays.

He has only held the interior portfolio since December after taking over from Cazeneuve and faced his most serious crisis at the weekend when a man was shot dead at Paris's Orly airport after attacking a soldier.

Cazeneuve, without naming Le Roux or referring to the scandal, said at a Paris event on Tuesday that government officials must be "irreproachable, otherwise the authority of the state is weakened".

Le Roux was conspicuously absent from the event after initially being scheduled to attend.

The interior minister also slipped out of a Senate hearing without speaking to reporters and cancelled two other appearances on Tuesday.

Fake jobs

French lawmakers are allowed to hire family members as assistants, as long as they do real work.

Fillon, once the frontrunner in France's presidential race, has been charged with misuse of public funds after placing his wife Penelope and two of their children on the public payroll.

In the scandal dubbed "Penelopegate", they are suspected of holding fake jobs as parliamentary aides for which they were paid around €900 000.

The conservative presidential candidate also insists he did no wrong, presenting the affair as an attempted "political assassination" and questioning the justice system's impartiality.


Read more on:    francois fillon  |  france  |  elections

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