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Emmanuel Macron must reveal the identity of his new Prime Minister at the beginning of the week. The composition of the government will be known later. A period in particular necessary to subject future ministers to a series of controls – reinforced since the Cahuzac and Thévenoud cases.
Tax situation, possible conflicts of interest and even criminal record: entry into government is synonymous with a series of checks, including prior, since the Cahuzac and Thévenoud cases.
If the appointment of a new Prime Minister is expected from Monday, that of the new government may not be immediate, the time to find the right people but also to carry out these checks, which started last week.
The moralization laws of summer 2017 enshrined a recent practice: concerning prospective clients, the president can request bulletin no. 2 of the criminal record as well as a certificate from the tax administration indicating whether or not the person is up to date. , respecting fiscal secrecy.
The Head of State can also ask the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) if the person is in a situation of conflict of interest.
Many names can be “tested” and exchanges are done orally, not in writing. The High Authority has the declarations of interests or assets of nearly 15,000 elected officials and public officials. It includes in particular past or present professional activities, participation in governing bodies and the profession of the spouse.
A series of laws after the Cahuzac affair
Its clarification can lead, for example, to a change in the ministerial portfolio envisaged, in the event of a problematic link of interest. If a person entering the government may be in conflict of interest on such or such file, some of his attributions may be delegated to another minister or to the Prime Minister. A frequent situation, due to a former position or the employment of the spouse in particular.
Immediately after an appointment, as provided for by the 2013 transparency laws, a full check of the tax situation of new entrants is carried out.
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These laws were adopted after the scandal of the hidden account abroad of former Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who was sentenced for tax evasion in 2018 to four years in prison, two of which were suspended, 300,000 euros fine and five years of ineligibility.
The verification carried out since, in connection with the tax authorities, is carried out under the control of the HATVP, which is a guarantee of independence. Previously, informal control was the responsibility of the Budget Minister.
It was this control that led in September 2014 to the resignation of Thomas Thévenoud, who had just been appointed Secretary of State, for not having declared his income, or late. His conviction for tax evasion to a suspended one-year prison sentence and three years of ineligibility became final in September 2019, after the rejection of his final appeal before the Court of Cassation.
To deal with a new Thévenoud case, François Hollande then Emmanuel Macron ordered checks upstream of the appointments, as in other countries.
Declarations of assets and interests
Further control is often still necessary to uncover certain abuses. In 2020, this was the case for Alain Griset, then Minister Delegate for SMEs, who had failed to declare a stock savings plan (PEA). He is the last member of the government to have resigned in connection with this type of verification.
New members of the government must also submit declarations of assets and interests to the HATVP, which are checked and then made public.
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If one of them holds portfolios of shares or other financial instruments, he must entrust their management to an agent, to whom he cannot give orders during his term of office to avoid any insider trading, under the same transparency laws.
Emmanuel Macron also provided for the ministers to sign “a commitment on the honor of integrity and morality” and communicate to the head of government “all the interests they had to know, beyond the period of five years provided for by law”.
The ministers of the Ayrault government in 2012 had signed a code of ethics, and those of the Fillon government in 2007 had had to comply with a series of obligations to set an example.