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Anti-sleaze law for 2011

Ministers should declare financial interest and be banned from holding national and local positions simultaneously

MINISTERS should publicly declare financial interests and roles in the private sector, a commission on conflicts of interests has recommended.

A new law, which will be debated this year, should define clear legal "obligations of probity, impartiality, objectivity and integrity in public servants", said the report.

It would force ministers to recognise personal interest and abstain from taking part in certain decisions.

If the recommendations come into law, nearly 4,000 civil servants and politicians would have to make a declaration of interest, noting additional incomes, positions and financial interest in private societies and companies.

They would also need to declare any professional activity, paid or not, and other sources of revenue from the previous three years.
Only the declarations of ministers would be made public.

The president of the Commission on Conflicts of Interests, which produced the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé, told Le Parisien: "Until now, conflicts of interest were a matter of personal conscience."

"Citizens want to be assured that their politicians serve only the national interest and not their own private ones," he added.

"France is clearly lagging behind in prevention. The laws are sparse, deficient and hardly used," he said.

Members of government, heads of offices and their assistants, all top civil servants, all council officers working in communes of 30,000-plus people, prefects, ambassadors, hospital directors and any person in charge of a public office with a budget of more than €40 million, would have to declare outside interests.

The professional activities of certain family members (partners, parents and children) will also need to be declared "where they can be reasonably known".

The new law would ban members of central government from holding executive positions in local government to end "the confusion between national and local interest", according to the commission.

Ministers would not be allowed to head a political party, association, union or foundation and neither would their immediate staff.
The heads of public bodies would be banned from holding the same positions in private companies.

It recommends that all gifts worth more than €150 should be refused unless protocol demands otherwise.

The law would be upheld by a new authority, which would take over from the current Commission pour la transparence financière de la vie politique and the Commission de la déontologie des fonctionnaires. It would have the power to carry out investigation, including those into the finances of politicians and civil servants.

Those who fail to declare a conflict of interest could be fined and stripped of their roles.

The author behind the 1992 book La Corruption de la République, Yves Mény, told Le Parisien: "In France we have a culture of rules and regulations, but a lot less of a culture of applying them, which takes second place."

herreneck -

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