What was Penelope Fillon doing? Why these wages? Where is the evidence? Judged in Paris for suspicions of fictitious jobs, the discreet wife of the former Prime Minister suffered Thursday a rolling fire of questions during a hearing under tension.
The themes of the reports for which she was paid in the 1980s? “It was my husband” who decided, she said, right at the bar of the criminal court. Money? “My husband”. A temporary part-time shift? “My husband” too.
Under the watchful eye of Francois Fillon, Penelope Fillon cashes in the salvo of questions from the tribunal and the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), who seek to know if she has really worked with him as a parliamentary assistant or if the Fillon have hijacked more 400,000 euros of public money between 1998 and 2002 then 2012 and 2013.
The court dates back to the beginnings of the political career of Francois Fillon, propelled deputy in Sarthe in 1981 at 27 years old.
Penelope Fillon, 64, black headband in her silver hair, recounts having played “from the start” the role of “relay” between her husband and “the inhabitants”.
For her first steps in the Sarthe, this Welsh graduate of letters is paid by her husband for occasional studies with sometimes nebulous titles: “The development of the Sabolian bocage”, “General Studies”, “Secretarial organization” …
These reports have not been found. The corresponding employment contracts, if.
“Why?” Asks the president, Nathalie Gavarino. “The reports, I gave them to my husband,” says Mrs. Fillon, a calm voice, a slight British accent.
Why these fluctuations in the remuneration for this work, between 4,700 and 30,000 francs? “My husband decided the amount, depending on the collaborator credit” remaining in the envelope, she said, what the investigation had established.
– “It marks!” –
The report on the secretariat had brought him 30,000 francs. “To organize your husband’s secretariat, you will touch the minimum wage nine times!” Insists Bruno Nataf, one of the PNF’s prosecutors. Penelope Fillon has nothing to answer, not having “taken care” of the amount.
In 1986, Ms. Fillon signed her first CDI as a parliamentary collaborator. It is, therefore, a question, she assures, of managing “the mail” arrived at the Beauce manor, of receiving inhabitants there, of providing it with “small press reviews” …
All of this is prescribed. But the court wonders: why did Ms. Fillon omit to mention these contracts during her first interrogation before the police?
“I was really in shock, it got out of my mind.
– But madam, bounces the president, a first professional experience, first salaries, it still marks! “
“Shared amnesia” by Francois Fillon, note prosecutors. The latter also claimed that his wife worked for free before 1998.
– “Bad for you” –
Under what did she receive “exceptional bonuses” in 2001 and 2002? Penelope Fillon ignores it.
What about this job as a “literary advisor” at the Revue des Deux Mondes, concomitant with his last contract as a parliamentary assistant, between 2012 and 2013? “I told myself that I could cumulate”.
The president noted that Ms. Fillon was also, during all this time, “very involved in family management”.
The two prosecutors draw a parallel between the births of the Fillon children and the first contracts of their mother, who has never asked for maternity leave.
“We have the impression that as the financial needs of your family increase, we find new resources through these contracts,” quips Aurelien Letocart.
The prosecution representative points to “a coincidence”, the end of Ms. Fillon’s jobs in 2013 when the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) was born.
Francois Fillon, MP for Paris, had decided “to run for the presidential election”, and an assistant maintaining the link with the Sarthe no longer had to be, says Ms. Fillon.
Faced with the presence at the helm of the one who has always fled the spotlight, “we sympathize”, “we are in pain for you”, assured the prosecutors. “I am in total empathy with your client, master,” said Bruno Nataf to his lawyer, “maybe more than you.” Uproar on the benches of the defense, rumble of Francois Fillon.
The trial is scheduled until March 11.