Why plans to cap top-up pensions for France's bosses are just for show

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Over the years there have been repeated scandals about the lavish top-up pensions awarded to the bosses of some of France's biggest firms, most recently involving Renault, Airbus and energy industry engineering firm TechnicFMC. Now, in a bid to end such controversies, the government's finance minister Bruno Le Maire is promising legislation to restrict the level of these lucrative perks. But as Mediapart's Martine Orange reports, the measure already looks as if it will be little more than window dressing.

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There have been dozens of rows since the late 1990s about the size of the top-up pensions awarded to the bosses of some of France's biggest companies. For example, there was a scandal over Daniel Bernard who left supermarket chain Carrefour in 2005 with 26 million euros set aside for his pension; another involving Antoine Zacharias, who left construction giants Vinci in 2006 with a 128 million euro pension pot and who also hoped to get 250 million stock options on top of that. This was followed by the row over Pierre Richard who was guaranteed an annual income of 300,000 euros for the rest of his life even though when he left the public finance institution Dexia in 2008 it was in a desperate situation in the middle of the financial crisis and needed a six-billion-euro state bailout.