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France

Hollande vows to wipe out tax havens

AFP

French President François Hollande has vowed to “eradicate” tax havens “in Europe and the world” as his government responds to the scandal over a tax-dodging budget minister. French banks will be ordered to name all their subsidies abroad and explain their activities, he said.

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A “relentless battle against the excesses of money, greed and secret finance" is needed, Hollande said on Wednesday, vowing to wipe out tax havens as “a condition of saving jobs”.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

"French banks will be required to every year make public the list of all their subsidiaries everywhere in the world, country by country," and to "declare the nature of their activities," he said.

Countries that do not comply with France’s efforts will be considered tax havens, Hollande declared, calling for extended to banks across the requirement to be extended throughout the European Union and eventually to major corporations.

The president declared himself "wounded, struck, even bruised by what happened" by the revelation that former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac had held a Swiss bank account and lied about it.

The scandal has led the government to draw up a number of anti-corruption measures, starting with ministers declaring their net worth.

Cahuzac should not return to his seat in parliament, Hollande said.

Reports that the disgraced minister is thinking of doing so were confirmed by the man who appeared on the ballot paper with him in the last general election, Jean-Claude Gouget on RTL radio Wednesday.

But Hollande condemned “unjust attacks” on finance minister Pierre Moscovici, accused by some right-wingers of either covering up for his budget minister.

Hollande said that there will no change in his economic programme, despite reports that some of his ministers want a relaxation of budgetary rigour, and insisted that it is not an “austerity” policy.

A European Commission report on Wednesday sharply criticised France’s debt and competitiveness.

The report warned Spain and Slovenia that they were suffering from “excessive” macroeconomic imbalances and told France and 10 other EU countries that they must take action to correct the problems.

France’s balance of trade has gone from 3.1 per cent of GDP in 1999 to a deficit of 2.2 per cent in 2011, it said.

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