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French Ministers Disclose Country Homes and Cars on New Website

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, April 18 2013

French government ministers and the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault are now publishing a list of their assets on a special government website. The news comes just weeks after Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigned following a report on an investigative French website, Mediapart, that he had an undeclared Swiss bank account.

The website shows that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has the most assets, according to Deutsche Welle, holding properties, stocks, life insurance, bank savings and other assets with a total value of just over 6 million euros or $7.85 million. According to DW, eight of the ministers had assets over one million euros. Minister for the Elderly Michele Delaunay, a former cancer specialist, came second to Fabius with just over five million euros, while Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, with a total of 268,000 euros is at the bottom of the list, according to DW. The website explains that all assets, including tax exempt ones, are included, with the information current as of the end of March.

Der Spiegel noted that Ayrault listed his home in Nantes and a vacation home in Brittany, with a 15,000 euro Citroen car and an older 1,000 euro VW station wagon plus various bank accounts amounting to 1.5 million euros. But Der Spiegel, calling the exercise a competition for modesty and rounding down arithmetic, also noted that the justice minister lists three bicycles valued at 200 euros, and that the documents show that many of the ministers drive used cars, own Paris apartments that are burdened by mortgages, and country homes that are simple farm houses, often inherited from parents.

Clémence Pène, an organizer for Personal Democracy Forum in France and a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the LabTop (Political Theory Lab) research center at Paris 8 University, wrote in an e-mail that she welcomed the move and hoped the website would be the first step in a larger process.

"That being said, the website itself is not very innovative (you can download pdf forms), and declarations are not necessarily easy to understand," she wrote. "I would be more interested to know how they spend their deputy indemnity (that is supposed to fund their assistants / offices / practical daily work life fees) than knowing if they have German or French cars."