AFP-Jiji PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — Conservative French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon, already dogged by a fake jobs scandal, on Sunday defiantly admitted a “friend” had paid for his bespoke suits costing thousands of euros after coming under fresh scrutiny following another media expose.
Since 2012, Fillon has received clothing worth nearly €48,500 ($51,800) furnished by jet-set tailor Arnys, the weekly Journal du Dimanche (JDD) said in a report denounced by Fillon’s spokesman as part of a “gutter campaign” against the candidate.
The report came just six weeks ahead of the first round of the presidential election and with Fillon, 63, facing charges over the fake jobs scandal.
Of the total sum for the suits, €35,500 was paid in cash, the paper said, adding a young woman generally delivered the money to the chic Parisian tailor that has catered to the likes of Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent.
An order for two suits completed in early February, however, was paid for by cheque, signed by a “generous friend” who asked to remain anonymous, the paper said.
“I paid at the request of Francois Fillon,” JDD quoted the cheque’s signatory as saying, adding: “by the way, without receiving the slightest thanks since then.”
Fillon late Sunday confirmed the report, telling Les Echos business daily: “A friend gave me the suits in late February. So what?
“I see that my private life is being put under all sorts of scrutiny, and this treatment is reserved for me. I don’t know who is trying to harm me,” he said.
The former prime minister’s spokesman Luc Chatel reacted angrily to the report. “How far are they going to take this?” he said. “Are they going to check whether his grandmother had a Russian loan, and if he declared it in his assets statement?” Chatel fumed on French radio.
A member of Fillon’s entourage dismissed as “outlandish” JDD’s assertion that cash payments were made on Fillon’s behalf for other Arnys clothing.