François Hollande tells ministers they have four days to reveal assets



A “devastated” President François Hollande has announced a series of actions to clean up French public life in the wake of the Jérôme Cahuzac tax evasion scandal.

Mr Hollande, struggling to save his presidency after only 11 months in office, promised new bodies to investigate the private finances of politicians and to crack down on tax fraud. He also promised to lead an EU-wide crusade against offshore  and continental tax havens.

The President said he had been “wounded, shaken and devastated” by the admission last week by Mr Cahuzac, his former Budget Minister, that he had dodged taxes for more than two decades by placing large sums in undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore.

“I was elected on a promise to run an irreproachable Republic,” Mr Hollande said. “I cannot leave such a scandal unanswered.”

Ministers have been ordered to reveal their bank balances and all business and property holdings by Monday. A law will oblige  members of parliament to do the same. A new High Authority will be set up to monitor the finances of public officials and vet the private dealings of ministers before and after they are appointed.

Mr Hollande said it was wrong to assume all politicians were cheats, but strong measures were needed to “moralise” the French public. A prosecution unit with “exceptional powers” would be created to investigate tax fraud. Politicians would be banned from certain “second jobs”, such as working for pharmaceutical companies.

Finally, Mr Hollande promised to crack down on tax havens by forcing French banks and large businesses to publish an annual list of all their foreign subsidiaries and the nature of their activities. He said that he would push for similar rules throughout the European Union.

The Cahuzac scandal threatens to paralyse a Socialist administration already struggling with high unemployment, minimal growth and approval ratings in the mid 20s.  Mr Cahuzac, 60, a wealthy former cosmetic surgeon, was until last month the minister in charge of spending cuts and cracking down on tax evasion.

After four months of denials, including lies to the President and parliament, he admitted last Tuesday that he had regularly hidden money in  bank accounts abroad and still held €600,000 (£510,000) in Singapore.

President Hollande angrily dismissed any possibility that Mr Cahuzac might reclaim his seat in parliament – something that he is entitled to do now that he has left the government.  “There is a question of conscience, if one can still use the word [in his case],” Mr Hollande said. “How can he return to a parliament to which he lied?”

Several ministers have already published lists of their assets. The Culture Minister, Aurélie Filipetti, revealed that she owned a 70 sq m flat in Paris and a David Beckham football shirt. Some opposition politicians have dismissed the exercise as a “diversionary exercise” by Mr Hollande to encourage public anger against rich politicians rather than dishonest ones. Others, like the former Prime Minister, François Fillon, have already jumped the gun and issued a list of their possessions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'