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PARIS (Reuters) - A former French justice minister said on Tuesday he was renouncing his week-old nomination to the Constitutional Court after prosecutors opened an investigation into allegations that he had paid his daughter with public funds for fake work.
Senator Michel Mercier, who denies any wrongdoing, is the latest high-profile French politician to be caught up in judicial investigations into financial impropriety, which began with conservative presidential contender Francois Fillon.
Mercier said he would turn down the Constitutional Court appointment so that he could focus on his duties in parliament's upper house.
"With the opening of this investigation I believe it is not possible for me to sit on the Constitutional Court," Mercier said in a statement. The financial prosecutor opened the investigation on Aug. 2.
Allegations that Mercier paid his daughter as his parliamentary assistant in 2012-2014 while she was living in London were first published by Le Canard Enchaine, the same weekly newspaper that revealed payments to Fillon's wife that eventually sank his campaign.
One of two new public ethics bills, adopted in parliament last week, includes a clause prohibiting lawmakers from employing family members, as part of a drive by President Emmanuel Macron to clean up French politics.
The hiring of family members by lawmakers has until now been legal, although increasingly frowned upon.
Three ministers, all members of the centrist MoDem party, left Macron's first government in order to defend themselves against allegations they were involved in the misuse of European Parliament funds.
(Reporting by Cyril Camu; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Laurence Frost and Alister Doyle)