Hollande announces new measures to combat corruption and tax fraud

Three new bodies created to tackle graft in wake of former budget minister admitting to tax fraud

François Hollande: “The exemplarity of the Republic is the condition of its authority,” he said after the weekly cabinet meeting,  calling for “an implacable struggle against the abuse of money, greed and hidden finance” . Photograph: Patrick Kovarik/Reuters

François Hollande: “The exemplarity of the Republic is the condition of its authority,” he said after the weekly cabinet meeting, calling for “an implacable struggle against the abuse of money, greed and hidden finance” . Photograph: Patrick Kovarik/Reuters

Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 19:35

President François Hollande today attempted to stem the damage from the admission by his former budget minister that he committed tax fraud.

“The exemplarity of the Republic is the condition of its authority,” Mr Hollande said after the weekly cabinet meeting. He called for “an implacable struggle against the abuse of money, greed and hidden finance” and said he knows“how much the French people want a change from this sad succession of scandals, which alters the very image of the Republic”.

The French leader said “the failings of one man must not throw discredit and suspicion on officials who devote themselves to the public good”. Yet the new rules he announced seem to treat cabinet ministers and parliamentarians as prime suspects.

France will create three new bodies to prevent corruption in government, starting with a “high authority” to audit lists of assets. Government ministers must divulge their wealth by April 15th. Deputies and senators will be required to do so as soon as a new law, to be presented on April 24th, is passed.

The government will name a financial prosecutor to pursue corruption and tax fraud. And it will create a “central office against fraud and corruption” drawing on the staff of the interior and finance ministries.

Mr Hollande said he will fight to eradicate tax havens in France and throughout Europe. “What I want is an automatic exchange of information on the revenue and wealth held by all French people abroad, and by all foreigners in France,” he said.

Mr Hollande also sought to reassert his authority over the ministers of industry, consumer affairs and housing, who criticised deficit-cutting measures. “I want to make it clear that this is the direction the government and I will not deviate from,” he said. “No government minister can question the policies we’ve put in place, which are not austerity measures.”