Ex-French Prime Minister Francois Fillon’s lawyer confirmed on Friday that the retired politician is facing a second investigation by financial prosecutors, as investigators probe whether payments to an assistant broke the law.

Fillon’s legal representative, Antonin Levy, told French television station BFM that the former prime minister was facing an investigation over allegations he used public funds to pay an assistant to help him write his 2015 book ‘Faire’.

“We’re not talking about a novel, nor a fiction. We’re talking about a book that expresses the political vision of a lawmaker,” Levy stated, adding: “If a politician cannot write a political book, what’s the point of being a lawmaker?”

The National Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF) has not confirmed whether an investigation is underway. Using public funds to pay someone for private gain is a violation of French law.

If a probe has been launched by the financial prosecutors, it would mark the PNF’s second investigation into Fillon in recent years.

In June 2020, Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, with three suspended, as well as being handed a €375,000 fine ($445,140) after being convicted of embezzlement and concealment of a crime. The charges related to an allegation that he had paid his wife €1 million ($1.19 million) euros over several years to work as his parliamentary assistant. The former leader’s wife, Penelope Fillon, was also given a three-year suspended sentence and a €375,000 fine. Fillon and his wife have denied the charges and are currently appealing the sentence.

According to Fillon’s lawyers, the new investigation dates back to 2017, “the same time as the original probe,” but Levy claims it was kept aside “to discredit” Fillon and “sully further his name” while he is appealing his original conviction.

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