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France

No jail for French lawmakers who lie about income

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2010-12-21

French lawmakers will not face automatic jail sentences if they lie about their wealth or income to the country’s Commission for Financial Transparency in Politics, but a bid to exempt them from other penalties has been shot down.

 

French MPs will not face prison if they lie about their personal wealth or income, the country’s lower house of parliament decided late Monday night.
 
They will, however, face a fine of 30,000 euros and be declared ineligible to stand for office in a move that amounted to a defeat for Christian Jacob, head of the ruling UMP party in France’s National Assembly.
 
The penalties, included in a bill to be voted on next month, are nevertheless harsh new measures for lawmakers who misrepresent their wealth and income to the Commission for Financial Transparency in Politics (CTFVP).
 
Jacob, to the consternation opposition socialists, had called for a two-year prison term, the fine and the ineligibility clause to be removed from the text of the bill.
 
‘Lie and cheat with impunity’
 
He argued that it was “unnecessary for the CTFVP to become a judicial authority in its own right, with powers of investigation.”
 
But at the end of a marathon session at the National Assembly in Paris, MPs voted 54 against 33 to keep the fine and the ineligibility clause, but to drop the prison term.
 
Despite this defeat for Jacob, the house’s left-wing opposition was incensed that the threat of jail for lying MPs had been left out.
 
“If you steal a scooter you get three years' jail,” said Jean-Yves Le Bouillonnec, a member of parliament for the Socialist Party. “It is totally unacceptable that a man who gets voted into office should be allowed to lie blatantly about his wealth or income without incurring a prison term.”
 
For Maxime Gremetz of the French Communist Party (PCF), the omission meant fellow lawmakers could “lie and cheat with impunity without fear of prison”.
 
The National Assembly will vote on the bill on January 12.

 

Date created : 2010-12-21

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