Monday

21st Jan 2019

French ministers in transparency move after tax scandal

  • Former budget minister Cahuzac lied about his Swiss bank accounts (Photo: Parti socialiste/Mathieu Delmestre)

All members of France's Socialist government are to publish their financial assets within days as President Francois Hollande struggles to overcome a tax fraud scandal involving his former budget minister.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday (8 April) "wealth declarations of all the members of government will be made public by 15 April" as part of a set of new financial transparency measures.

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A cabinet meeting on Wednesday is due to approve the measures, with finance minister Pierre Moscovici cancelling a meeting with his American counterpart Jacob Lew on Tuesday in order to devote time to the transparency package and to questions in parliament.

Ayrault said the aim of the new measures is to "more severely punish breaches of the financial law and ethics and integrity rules, and to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax havens."

The measures come after it emerged former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac had lied about having Swiss bank accounts and that Hollande's own campaign manager was involved in offshore businesses

The revelations were a major political embarrassment to Hollande who came into office last year on a promise to run a clean government. His popularity has plummeted to a record low of 22 percent.

The opposition has accused Hollande of covering up the scandal or being too naive in believing Cahuzac's denials.

Meanwhile, the bad news keeps on coming.

Swiss RTS television channel on Sunday reported that Cahuzac sought to transfer €15 million from one bank account to another, far more than the €600,000 he admitted to have placed in an undeclared foreign account.

Cahuzac's lawyers denied the report.

Foreign minister Laurent Fabius has also denied a newspaper story that he may have a Swiss account and said he would sue for "false and slanderous information."

In a survey published Sunday in Journal du Dimanche, three in five respondents said they were in favour of a government reshuffle over the scandal.

Hollande so far has held firm on reshuffling calls. But one of his ministers admitted that "we will probably have to have a reshuffle, but not right away," Reuters reports.

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The scandal over France's tax-evading budget minister is threatening to engulf Hollande's government, which had promised an "irreproachable republic."

Top five EU states push for tax transparency

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have agreed new measures to fight tax fraud, putting pressure on Austria and Luxembourg to stop blocking an EU-level law.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

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Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

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