François Hollande tells ministers they have four days to reveal assets

 

Paris

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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map