France

France to introduce conflict of interest law after year of scandal

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

France is to introduce a conflict of interest law following last year’s Bettencourt scandal which stalled the career of a top government minister, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Wednesday.

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The law will make “probity, impartiality, objectivity and integrity” a legal obligation for elected officials and top civil servants.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

And it will set up an ethics authority with the right to seize documents, especially tax returns, if conflict of interest is suspected.

The measures have been proposed by a committee of three experts named by Sarkozy last summer after Budget Minister Eric Woerth was dragged into the scandal over l’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt’s feud with her daughter.

Sarkozy dropped Woerth in a cabinet reshuffle after keeping him in government for months despite charges that he and his wife had dubious connections with Bettencourt.

Further allegations touched Sarkozy himself as well as his UMP party.
 

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