Saturday 16 December 2017

France to unveil corporate corruption clampdown

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. AP Photo
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. AP Photo

Michel Rose

France is tightening anti-corruption laws to clean up its image after several French companies were slapped with huge fines abroad. Planned reforms including greater protection for whistleblowers and a new anti-corruption agency.

Two years ago, France's biggest bank, BNP Paribas, was fined $9bn (€8bn) in the US for violations of sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

French engineering company Alstom and oil groups Total and Technip have been forced to pay millions of dollars to US authorities over bribery allegations.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin will unveil the new bill to the cabinet today, before sending it to parliament for discussion.

"We are badly ranked internationally, we're under suspicion," Mr Sapin told France Inter radio.

"So we must wash away this suspicion and for that we need strong measures," he said.

The bill will include the creation of a government-wide registry of lobbyists and a ban on "large" gifts to government officials, finance ministry officials said.

France was ranked 23rd in Transparency International's latest corruption perception index, below Germany, Britain and the United States, and was criticised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2014.

"To this day, no French company has yet been convicted for foreign bribery in France, whereas French companies have been convicted abroad for that offence," the OECD said then, adding that it was concerned by France's "lack of proactivity".

The government dropped a plan to let companies plead guilty in exchange for a financial settlement, Mr Sapin said.


Irish Independent

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