A new arsenal to better fight an invisible evil. The government is working on "new measures" to fight corruption, Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday on the social network X (formerly Twitter).
"All you have to do is give him a ticket, it's settled", "everything can be bought with money": corruption is the worm that can rot the fruit of democracy.
This is what undermines any confidence in our democratic institutions, in our businesses and in our relationships...
— Bruno Le Maire (@BrunoLeMaire) December 9, 2023
Since Emmanuel Macron's election in 2017, "we have strengthened our mechanisms for preventing and detecting breaches of probity thanks to compliance programs conducted by the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA)," Le Maire wrote on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, set for December 9 by the UN. Corruption "is the worm that can rot the fruit of democracy," the minister also wrote.
"We want to continue in this direction. At the beginning of next year, we will have the opportunity to announce new measures on this subject" with Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti and Minister Delegate for Public Accounts Thomas Cazenave, he concluded.
"The French are asking for more"
In an online poll of 1,500 people conducted at the end of October and published on Saturday, 87% of respondents said they felt that people with power or important responsibilities were corrupt, with a small (44%) or large (43%) proportion of them.
In this Toluna/Harris Interactive survey carried out for the Jean Jaurès Foundation and the Transparency France movement, more than a quarter of French people (26%) say they "have already been personally solicited to give a sum of money or a valuable gift in a public administration to obtain a service".
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"The French are clear: they are asking for more," Patrick Lefas, president of Transparency International France, said in a statement from the anti-corruption movement. "More exemplarity, more transparency in public life, more resources for financial justice and more whistleblowers," he said.
"Changing the current legal arsenal"
When contacted, Bruno Le Maire's office said it was working "on measures to better prevent corruption in the corporate sector but also in the public sector".
"For example, it could be a question of strengthening the controls of the French Anti-Corruption Agency in certain sectors defined as sensitive, or raising our level of requirements in terms of breaches of probity by modifying the current legal arsenal," Bercy said.
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In 2016, the so-called "Sapin 2" law created the Judicial Convention of Public Interest (CJIP), which allows companies suspected of breaching probity to escape criminal prosecution by paying a fine.
Since then, twenty companies, including giants such as McDonald's, Google and LVMH, have been sanctioned, although these negotiated fines do not amount to an admission of guilt or a sentence.
Tackling 'low-intensity' corruption
Interviewed this Saturday in the newspaper Le Monde, the director of the AFA Isabelle Jégouzo called for "going further on raising awareness among small and medium-sized enterprises", "not directly subject to the Sapin 2 law".
In the future, it also wants to tackle "low-intensity" corruption. This consists, for example, of paying "a few hundred or thousands of euros" to a public official to consult confidential files, she illustrated. Since 2016, cases related to this "low-intensity" corruption have "increased by 46%", she said.