France’s President Francois Hollande called for the end of offshore tax havens on Wednesday in a move to lessen the damage caused by a recent tax scandal.
Hollande made the announcement on Wednesday at a news conference, saying “tax havens must be eradicated in Europe and worldwide.”
France’s ex-Budget Minister, Jerome Cahuzac, has been charged with fraud after it was discovered that he held a secret Swiss bank account.
The resulting scandal rocked Hollande’s presidency. Hollande spoke while presenting a draft law aimed at “moralizing” French public life. That includes getting rid of offshore tax havens. The French president added:
“The fight against fraud is a condition for tax equality. Tax havens must be eradicated in Europe and in the world, as a condition to preserve and protect jobs.”
Hollande is under pressure to reshuffle his cabinet in light of Cahuzac’s departure and the allegations that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also has a Swiss bank account. The President added that a lesson could be taken from Cahuzac’s case, as well as other cases surrounding financial corruption.
The country’s Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, has also been accused of failure to act quickly against Cahuzac. Hollande defended his finance minister on Wednesday, saying the accusations were “unfair.” He also attempted to soothe anger among French voters, saying that French banks will have to disclose their lists of all foreign subsidiaries.
Offshore tax havens are frowned upon and sometimes illegal. Hollande likened them to the occult, adding that they have “marred public life.” As part of the new drive for a transparent government, all French ministers will have to declare their assets by April 15. A new national specialist prosecutor will also be allowed to act on cases of fraud and corruption.
Hollande also added, “a high-level authority will be created to monitor the assets and interests of ministers, members of parliament, top elected officials.” Politicians are also expected to be given a list of banned professions that would create a conflict of interest.
What do you think of President Hollande’s decision to “eradicate” offshore tax havens?
[Image via Matthieu Riegler]