Macron ally treated as suspect in financial impropriety case: source

FILE PHOTO: Francois Bayrou, leader of Mouvement Democrate (Democratic Movement), is seen in his car as he arrives to visit the Pic du Midi in the Pyrenees mountain with French President Emmanuel Macron (not pictured) at La Mongie in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, France, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) – A French investigative judge on Friday placed Francois Bayrou, a political ally of President Emmanuel Macron, under formal investigation for suspected complicity in the misuse of European Parliament funds, a judicial source said.

Bayrou, the leader of France’s centrist MoDem party, resigned as Macron’s justice minister in June 2017, following a preliminary investigation into his party’s finances.

Under French law, the placing of suspects under formal investigation means prosecutors believe they have “serious or consistent evidence” that could result in prosecution. Friday’s decision puts Bayrou one step closer to trial, though the investigation can still be dropped.

Bayrou’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Simon Carraud; Editing by Richard Lough and Daniel Wallis

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