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Hollande introduces transparency rules for banks and politicians

French banks will publish an annual list of all foreign subsidiaries, while ministers must disclose personal assets from next Monday, President Francois Hollande said in a drive to increase transparency.

Seeking to restore public trust after a budget minister resigned amid allegations of tax fraud, Mr Hollande said he would step up the fight against tax havens and corruption, including by appointing a specialised financial prosecution office.

"French banks will have to publish every year the full list of their subsidiaries in the world, country by country. And they will indicate what they are doing," Mr Hollande said yesterday.

"In other words it won't be possible for a bank to hide transactions carried out in a tax haven."

Mr Hollande did not say what exactly would be asked of banks on top of what they already report. French banks, including BNP Paribas and Société Générale, publish the names, ownership interest and locations of units in all markets including low-tax administrations like Bermuda, Luxembourg and Jersey.

A draft law to curb banks' risky trading activities also demands that banks give more operational details on a country-by-country basis, including staff and revenues.

After resigning amid allegations of tax fraud, ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac acknowledged last week that he had a secret bank account abroad.

This was a major embarrassment for Socialist President Mr Hollande, who promised to combat sleaze during his mandate but whose approval rating is already at record lows.

In public life, an independent authority will monitor ministers' asset declarations while a special prosecutor's office would focus on major corruption and fiscal fraud cases.

"We aim to ensure that those who govern them, those they have elected... are not getting richer in the course of their mandate," Mr Hollande said.

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