Tax, criminal record… How the integrity of future ministers is verified

By appointing Jean Castex prime minister on Friday July 3 to replace Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron asked him to form a new government. But the new team will not be in place immediately. Tax situation, possible conflicts of interest and even criminal record: since the Cahuzac or Thévenoud scandals, the law allows at the Elysée Palace to verify the integrity of the candidates for the posts before their appointment.

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Since the law of September 15, 2017, the president of the Republic “May, before the appointment of any member of the government and in relation to the person whose appointment is envisaged”, request :

  • to the High Authority for the transparency of public life (HATVP) if elements in its possession make it possible to indicate that the candidate “Is in a situation which could constitute a conflict of interest”, and whether it is possible to end it;
  • to the taxman if the person “May or may not meet the tax reporting and payment obligations for which it is liable” ;
  • to justice the criminal record bulletin n ° 2, which can reveal minor crimes and even fines.

Many names can be “tested” and the exchanges are made orally, not in writing. The results of these requests can be exchanged with the Prime Minister. The HATVP can rely on a basis of declarations of interests or assets of nearly 15,000 elected officials and public officials to give a preliminary opinion. Its lighting can induce, for example, a change in the envisaged ministerial portfolio, in the event of a problematic link of interest.

This possibility of rapid and partial control before the appointment of members of the government, which appeared in 2017, has legalized a practice already existing since 2016.

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Further verification once in place

Immediately after an appointment, a full verification of the tax situation of new entrants will be mandatory. This verification, carried out in connection with the tax authorities, is carried out under the supervision of the HATVP. Previously, informal control was the responsibility of the Minister for the Budget. In the event of a problem, the Elysée and Matignon are informed, without the potential dispute being made public.

In addition, the new members of the government must transmit to the HATVP declarations of patrimony and interests, which are checked – again if necessary by the tax administration – then published. If one of them holds portfolios of shares or other financial instruments, he must entrust the management of them to an agent, to whom he cannot give orders during the term of his office to avoid any insider trading.

In addition, Emmanuel Macron had planned, from 2017, that the ministers sign “A commitment on the honor of integrity and morality” and communicate to the head of government “All the interests they have had to know, beyond the period of five years provided for by law”. Before that, the ministers of the Ayrault government in 2012 had to sign an ethics charter, and those of the Fillon government in 2007 had to comply with a series of exemplary obligations.

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The World with AFP

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