Thursday, 25 May 2017

Macron ally Richard Ferrand under fire over property deal

A close ally of France's new president is facing accusations over a property deal involving his partner.

Richard Ferrand, a minister in Emmanuel Macron's government, rented office space from his own partner for a fund he managed, it has emerged.

The revelation comes as Mr Macron's government prepares a law to tackle political corruption.

Both Mr Ferrand and the government say there was nothing illegal or unethical in the deal.

No public money appears to have been involved in the deal, which took place when Mr Ferrand was head of a health insurance fund, the Mutuelles de Bretagne.
However, tackling corruption in public life was a major campaign pledge from Mr Macron, who opposed MPs working as consultants or employing family members. The new justice minister is also currently drafting a bill on ethics in public life.

The allegations were first unveiled in the satirical French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné.

In its report, it said the organisation led by Mr Ferrand had decided to rent office space from a building his partner was involved in.

On the basis of that guaranteed rental income, she was then able to secure a business loan worth about €402,000 (£347,000), the paper reports. Renovations carried out by the fund would also have increased the property's value, it added.

But Mr Ferrand was quick to address the issue on national television, saying the decision was made with full knowledge of his connection to the building.

"The administrators of the board, on which I did not sit, picked the best offer... which was a building owned by my partner," he told French broadcaster BFMTV.

He also said the buildings were still being used years later - indicating satisfaction with the arrangement.

He described the story as a "pseudo-scandal" and a "welcome present" for the beginning of his public life.

BBC    News.