French parliamentarians face probe over Swiss bank accounts

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An official French watchdog that monitors the financial probity of holders of public office has alerted the Paris public prosecutor’s office to its “serious doubt” that a French Senator and two members of the National Assembly, the lower house, deliberately under-declared their assets to parliament “notably due to the omission” of their secret bank accounts in Switzerland. The cases of Senator Bruno Sido and MPs Lucien Degauchy and Bernard Brochand, all from the conservative opposition UMP party, emerge just one year after the socialist government’s budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac was forced to resign following Mediapart’s revelations of his secret account with Swiss bank UBS, and months after a junior minister was found to have avoided paying income tax for several years. Mathilde Mathieu reports.

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In a statement issued late Thursday, the Haute autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique (HAT), the newly-created official French watchdog whose mission is to monitor and investigate the financial probity of parliamentarians, members of government and heads of public organizations, announced it has recently passed on to the Paris public prosecutor’s office detailed reports on the cases of three parliamentarians about who it has “a serious doubt regarding the exhaustiveness, exactitude and sincerity” of their mandatory declarations of their personal wealth “notably due to the omission of assets held abroad”.