Paris, France – Things were looking good for Francois Fillon shortly after he was selected as the presidential candidate for The Republicans, the French right-wing party.
In the weeks after his victory, the former prime minister enjoyed a healthy showing in the opinion polls with Ipsos putting him in the lead with 29 percent of the vote, four points ahead of his nearest rival Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN).
Fast forward to the month of the election and the same pollster puts Fillon on 19 percent: not only behind Le Pen, but also the centrist Emmanuel Macron and the leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Chief among the accusations is that Fillon employed his wife Penelope as a “parliamentary assistant”, paying her close to a million euros ($1.07m) over a period of at least eight years, starting in 1998.
That is quite legal, but the scandal centres on whether Penelope actually did any work.
Fillon has gone from front-runner to fourth in the polls in the wake of a corruption scandal [EPA]
A string of further allegations emerged shortly afterwards, this time involving payments to his children for work they did as students.
Fillon has apologised for the payments but refuses to step down.
In the meantime, his poll numbers have tanked and authorities have placed him under formal investigation, even raiding his home in early March.
Fillon is not alone in facing accusations of financial mismanagement, his rival Le Pen also stands accused.