FRANCE

French PM stands by embattled minister

Charly Triballeau, AFP | France's Minister of Territorial Integration Richard Ferrand speaks to journalists in Deauville,on May 29, 2017.

A government minister accused of wrongdoing will be allowed to remain in his role, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said on French television Tuesday night.

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When asked if Minister of Territorial Integration Richard Ferrand would be permitted to keep his government position despite reports of potentially improper business dealings, Philippe said: “I am saying yes, after having perfectly understood, being perfectly conscious of the exasperation of the French, of their emotion, of their annoyance.”

The issue is particularly salient given that newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron took office amid promises that politics-as-usual would be a thing of the past and his government would be squeaky clean.

But just weeks into his nascent presidency, one of his close allies and government ministers is coming under growing pressure for business practices that carried undertones of potential conflicts of interest.

Weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaine reported last week that an insurance company struck a rental deal with a company owned by Ferrand's romantic partner when he led the firm.

A report published in Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday said the insurance company had contracts with both Ferrand's ex-wife and his current companion. The newspaper also reported that Ferrand advocated for a bill advantageous to insurance companies in 2012, when he was a lawmaker.

Ferrand denied any wrongdoing in a statement Tuesday. The allegations are not being investigated by any legal authorities in France.

A law to prohibit politicians from hiring family members, an issue that dogged conservative presidential candidate François Fillon, is to be formally presented to parliament next week.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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