Hollande pledges to clean up French politics

French president vows "to go all the way" after promising new law on "publication and control" of ministers' wealth.

    The French president has said he will all the way to clean up French politics after a former budget minister was charged in a tax-fraud inquiry linked to his secret foreign bank account.

    Speaking in the Moroccan capital Rabat on Thursday, Francois Hollande said France was a great nation that would "not accept being humiliated."

    "I will go all the way on these questions because I have nothing to fear from the strict application of the laws that exist and the application of the new laws" announced, he said.

    Jerome Cahuzac, the former budget minister, admitted on Tuesday to having had a hidden account overseas for nearly two decades.

    Hollande pledged on Wednesday that a new law on the "publication and control" of ministers' wealth would be presented within weeks.

    He said he would ban anyone guilty of fraud from holding public office in France.

    No protection

    Hollande earlier said Cahuzac had benefited from no protection over the account.

    "I affirm here that Jerome Cahuzac did not benefit from any form of protection, other than the presumption of innocence. And he left the government at my request immediately after the opening of an investigation," he said in a pre-recorded statement distributed to broadcasters.

    "He tricked the highest authorities in the country: the head of state, the government, parliament, and through it all the French people. It's a grave and unforgivable error."

    Hollande outlined three measures planned in the wake of the revelations - a re-enforcement of the independence of the judiciary, the introduction of a register of assets for parliamentarians and a ban of elected officials found guilty of tax offences holding public office.

    Cahuzac's admission he held a $770,000 bank account was a blow to Hollande's 10-month-old government, whose popularity is facing all-time lows in opinion polls.

    Cahuzac resigned on March 19 after an investigation into the Swiss bank account he allegedly used to hide assets from the tax authorities.

    Fresh scrutiny

    Hollande's 10-month-old government faced fresh scrutiny on Thursday as the Le Monde daily, citing leaked corporate data, reported that his former campaign treasurer had joint ownership of two firms registered in the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean tax haven.

    Jean-Jacques Augier told French media that he had no personal investment in the Cayman Islands and was ready to show his corporate accounts to authorities if they requested them.

    Augier is among thousands of holders of offshore accounts who have had their identities exposed by millions of emails and leaked records from offshore tax havens.

    The investigation, published by the Guardian and Le Monde newspapers, was carried out by a variety of media organisations in conjunction with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

    Global Witness, London-based transparency campaigners, called on the G8 to take the revelations as a wake-up call and require the names of company owners to be made public.

    "This revelation of the extent of financial secrecy should act as a wake-up call to us all," Stuart McWilliam, Global Witness spokesman, said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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