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A week after the revelations of Canard Enchaîné claiming that the ex-wife of deputy LR Éric Ciotti, Caroline Magne, has accumulated several public jobs, the national financial prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation on Tuesday.
The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has opened a preliminary investigation after the publication of articles according to which the ex-wife of Éric Ciotti, given as a favorite for the presidency of the Les Républicains party, has held several jobs for almost ten years .
This investigation, which “aims to verify the validity of the elements published in the press”, was opened for embezzlement of public funds, breach of trust and concealment of these offenses, said Tuesday the PNF, confirming information from BFMTV.
Asked by AFP, the deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes had not reacted at midday. His ex-wife, contacted by telephone, said for her part “stunned by this story” but “does not wish to react”.
In its November 16 edition, Le Canard enchaîné affirmed that the former wife of Les Républicains deputy Éric Ciotti, Caroline Magne, had held various jobs with the deputy or political allies: Christian Estrosi’s press officer, she is in 2007 became Éric Ciotti’s parliamentary attaché when he was elected to the Assembly, in addition to a job at the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Council where she “extended her skills” when her husband took over as president in 2008.
The article also reveals that she became deputy director of the mayor of Nice before joining the steering team of the urban community, exercising these responsibilities until 2011.
At the Assembly, her contract ended in 2016 but she also, between 2014 and 2016, exercised responsibilities in the town of La Colle-sur-Loup, and had a job in the diocese of Nice between 2012 and 2014, according to the chained Duck.
After the publication of this article, the deputy, candidate for the presidency of his party, said he was “basely attacked” and explained that he had employed Caroline Magne as a parliamentary collaborator “on a very part-time basis” and “in strict compliance with the laws and regulations”.
“In both cases, the accumulation of activity never exceeded 44 hours per week,” he said in a press release, ensuring that his job “in the constituency” reached “5:25 a week”. As for the one at the town hall of La-Colle-sur-Loup, “the weekly working time has never exceeded 9 hours per week”, he specified.
According to Liberation, Caroline Magne was paid in 2008 and 2009 nearly 20,000 euros per year for her job as an assistant to Éric Ciotti at the National Assembly. Its income would have increased from 51,700 euros gross per year in 2007 in total to 94,500 euros in 2009, the newspaper also writes.
The daily also affirms that “there was no, in the individual file of Caroline Magne, a request for authorization of accumulation granted by the city of Nice, as the law requires”. In the newspaper, the person concerned replied that having already obtained the authorization to combine when she was in the department, she did not need to renew it, having “not changed employer” by following Estrosi to the town hall from Nice.
The campaign for the LR presidency hit
The announcement of this investigation comes in the middle of the campaign for the presidency of LR, a ballot for which Éric Ciotti, Senator Bruno Retailleau and MP Aurélien Pradié compete.
Under the slogan “The right to the heart”, the 56-year-old MP for the Alpes-Maritimes, who was a finalist in the LR primary for the last presidential election, represents a security and identity line. He appears to be the favorite in the ballot which is due to take place on December 3 and 4 and, if necessary, the following week for a second round.
In 2017, the then LR presidential candidate, François Fillon, had seen his career explode with the “Penelopegate”, this case of allegedly fictitious jobs which took the name of his wife, revealed by the Chained Duck.
François Fillon was sentenced on appeal in May to four years in prison, including one year, a fine of 375,000 euros and ten years of ineligibility and his wife to two years in prison suspended and two years of ineligibility. They appealed in cassation.