France presidential candidate charged with misuse of public funds

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Fillon has vowed to stay in the race, even as he is under formal investigation.

Who could imagine General de Gaulle under judicial investigation, Mr Fillon said in a speech which is now coming back to haunt him.

The opinion polls point to a run-off between far-right leader Marine Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, with the latter winning that duel convincingly.

A right-wing candidate for French president was placed under formal investigation Tuesday-meaning there's "serious or consistent evidence" of wrongdoing-in an unprecedented move, the Guardian reports.

It alleged that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for work which she might not have done.

While the outcome was widely expected, the decision is a reminder of the legal woes dogging Mr Fillon's campaign less than six weeks before the first round of a tight presidential race.

Mr Fillon is accused of misusing public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds, complicity in misusing public funds and improper declaration of his assets, among other charges. The charges came a day before he was scheduled to be questioned in a probe into whether family members did real work while paid as parliamentary aides. His once-unshakeable approval ratings have plummeted in the wake of the scandal, and many in Fillon's own party, the center-right Republicans, have requested that he step aside for a more viable candidate.

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"Those who don't respect the laws of the Republic should not be allowed to run".

The embezzlement allegations have dented support for Mr Fillon, a one-time frontrunner now in third place in the polls.

Those revelations followed a report by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper over the weekend that Fillon had asked an undisclosed friend to write a 13,000-euro check ($13,800) last month to pay for the candidate to have two custom suits made by an exclusive Paris tailor.

Although Macron's name isn't mentioned, French prosecutors Tuesday opened a preliminary investigation into suspected favoritism surrounding an event in Las Vegas promoted by Macron past year.

The glitzy event at the CES electronics fair was organized without a public tender by a unit within the economy ministry, which was then headed by Macron.

Yet his bid for office has bowed beneath the weight of the unfolding scandal, and as France draws closer to its two-part presidential election, Fillon's prospects continue to sink.