French investigators interview presidential candidate, wife

PARIS (AP) — French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon and his wife, Penelope, were interviewed Monday for an embezzlement probe centered on whether she actually worked while being paid as her husband’s parliamentary aide, a source close to the investigation said.

The source was not allowed to speak publicly about an ongoing case and refused to say where the interviews with investigators were taking place.

France’s financial prosecutor opened a preliminary embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds probe of Fillon last week.

The investigation followed a report by Le Canard Enchaine newspaper that Fillon’s wife was paid a total of about 500,000 euros ($537,000) for work she did not perform.

Fillon says her job “was real.”

It’s not illegal for French lawmakers to hire their relatives as long as they are genuinely employed.

The conservative candidate is one of the favorites in this spring’s presidential election.

At a campaign rally on Sunday in Paris, where a boisterous crowd gave Penelope Fillon a standing ovation and chanted her name, Fillon said, “We have nothing to hide.”

“Through Penelope they are trying to break me,” he said. “I will never forgive those who chose to throw us to the wolves.”