French ministers to reveal wealth

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

French government ministers are due to reveal details of their personal wealth as part of efforts by Francois Hollande to regain public trust.
The French president set Monday as the deadline for ministers to publically declare their assets.

The move followed the scandal surrounding former Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac, who is charged with tax fraud over a secret bank account.

Mr Hollande's popularity ratings have plummeted in the wake of the scandal.

Each of France's 37 ministers will be required to publish details of their personal finances on their government websites.

This is expected to include details of bank accounts, property and other expensive items such as cars , art works and antiques.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says the exercise is designed to be eye-catching, and dispel some of the public disenchantment with politics that has developed in recent weeks.
Approval ratings nosedive

Jerome Cahuzac caused shock earlier this month when he admitted he had hidden about 600,000 euros (£509,000; $770,000) in a Swiss bank account, having repeatedly denied it.

He resigned from his government position in March and is now being investigated for tax fraud.

President Hollande has also been embarrassed by revelations that his former Socialist Party treasurer, Jean-Jacques Augier, held personal investments in two Cayman Islands offshore companies.

The scandals have further damaged Mr Hollande's credibility among the French public.

His approval ratings were already suffering as a result of France's continuing economic problems, but have since nosedived.

When he was elected less than a year ago, he promised voters a government that would promote morality and integrity in public life.

In an apparent effort to regain the political initiative, Mr Hollande's government is also planning to table new laws obliging all members of parliament to declare their assets.

It also has plans for a special prosecutor to focus on corruption, and tougher penalties for those found guilty of fraud.