Eleven candidates qualified for first round of French election

Eleven candidates qualified for first round of French election

Francois FillonMagistrates investigating into Fillon public fund misuse would widen the investigation to include an "influence peddling" probing in relation with the conservative politician' suits worth thousands of euros paid by a wealthy friend, Le Parisien daily said.

Fillon, an avowed Catholic, was the surprise victor of the rightwing Republicans' primary in November after campaigning as a man of integrity.

The other gifts were paid for in cash, the paper reported.

He was charged this week with misuse of public funds over payments totalling €680,000 to his Welsh-born wife Penelope between 1986 and 2013.

According to Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, the ex-prime minister received gifts of suits and other clothing worth a total of 48,500 euros (52.224 USA dollars) since 2012 from a Paris tailor.

Fillon said on Monday that he was "perfectly within my rights to accept a suit from a friend, it's not forbidden", adding that it had "nothing to do with" politics.

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Fillon has since repaid the loan.

"Everyday I am hit with a new squall".

Opinion polls indicate suggest he will be eliminated in the first round of voting on April 23.

On Tuesday, the Paris prosecutors' office opened a preliminary enquiry into a state-financed event attended by 39-year-old Macron last year while he was economy minister.

Polls show Macron easily beating Le Pen in a run-off vote on May 7. Macron is seen in the BVA poll making it to the runoff and defeating Le Pen with 62 percent to her 38.