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Former French minister François Bayrou charged on Friday, December 6 for "complicity in embezzlement of public funds." AFP Photos / Eric Feferberg

Former French minister François Bayrou, leader of the MoDem centrist formation and close ally of Emmanuel Macron, was charged on the evening of Friday 6 December for " complicity in embezzlement of public funds " in the case of assistants of MEPs of his party.

For the lawyer, François Bayrou, Pierre Cornut-Gentille: " This indictment, announced in advance in newspapers, was decided against all the evidence produced ." He goes on to say that " the continuation of the investigation will show that it is totally unfounded ".

Ten hours of audition

The president of the MoDem, 68, stayed about ten hours in the office of investigating judges Charlotte Bilger, Benedict of Perthuis and Patricia Simon at the Paris court, responding point by point to all the questions put to him, according to concordant sources.

The magistrates seek to determine whether parliamentary assistants, who also worked part-time for the MoDem, actually carried out the tasks financed by European credits or if this assembly was used to fraudulently finance the payroll of the party.

►Also read: The case of parliamentary assistants of MoDem in 5 questions

They suspect Mr. Bayrou of being responsible for the whole system allegedly reproached to the centrist party. " For this, we need instructions, " argues the entourage of the politician. " No testimony or document designates François Bayrou, " according to this source.

A dozen officials indicted

A dozen leaders of the movement have already been indicted since mid-November in this case, including former MEP Sylvie Goulard , former Minister of Justice Michel Mercier or the party's financial director Alexandre Nardella.

The vice-president of MoDem Marielle de Sarnez, heard on Wednesday, was indicted for " embezzlement of public funds " for the contract of a former assistant. For five other suspect contracts, the judge placed her under the intermediate status of assisted witness.

The opening of a preliminary inquiry in this case in June 2017 led to the resignation of François Bayrou from the post of Minister of Justice.

(With AFP)