New measures relating to financial crime
Following a first reading on 25 June 2013, the French National Assembly has adopted a number of measures relating to financial crime and "transparency in public life". The measures will now be debated in the Senate.
- Financial public prosecutor
Among the measures approved was a draft organic law creating a financial public prosecutor (procureur de la République financier) with national jurisdiction. The new prosecutor[, who will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice,] will be responsible for prosecutions relating to a wide range of crimes, including corruption, influence-peddling, and misuse of public funds, as well as tax evasion which – due to its scale, the existence an international dimension or the methods used – is of a "particular degree of complexity.
Specific resources are to be dedicated to combatting corruption and tax evasion, and the measures will eventually result in the creation of up to 50 new specialist posts.
- "Transparency in public life"
Alongside the creation of a financial public prosecutor, the deputies also approved a draft organic law on "transparency in public life". Under the bill, a new authority (Haute autorité de la transparence de la vie publique) will be responsible for auditing the declarations of interests and assets of more than 7,000 elected representatives and public figures, including directors of major public enterprises.
Although the declarations of assets will only be consultable in person, the declarations of interest will be [publically available/published on the internet] and will cover the activities of an individual's partner, children and parents for the five years prior to their entry into office. A false declaration will be punished with up to three years' imprisonment and a fine of €45,000, with harsher punishments applicable to members of the Government.
TRACFIN: new conditions of admissibility for suspicious transaction reports
A new decree ("Décret n°2013-480") of 6 June 2013 relating to the admissibility of suspicious transaction reports to TRACFIN, the body in charge of processing such reports, was published on 8 June 2013.
Under these new provisions, a report to TRACFIN of a suspicious transaction will only be admissible if the reporting person also gives information on its profession and address, as well as a further description of the transaction in question. These provisions will enter into force on 1 July 2013 and will apply to most of the professionals subject to the Anti-Money Laundering Provisions of the French Monetary and Financial Code (Article L. 561-15 CMF).
OECD Working Group on Bribery publishes its annual report
The OECD Working Group on Bribery published its annual report, including a summary of its Phase 3 report on France, on 10 June 2013.
Although the Working Group on Bribery welcomed certain steps taken in France – such as the introduction of protection for whistleblowers and measures to guarantee prosecutors greater independence – it expressed concern about the French authorities' attitude to bribery, noting in particular that convictions of legal persons for bribery offences remain extremely rare. Given the shortcomings, the report recommended the abolition of the "dual criminality" requirement and recommended that the maximum fines be strengthened and that greater use be made of the existing penalties, including debarment from public procurement.