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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

French minister resigns after being found guilty of hiding assets

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French government minister delegate Alain Griset resigned Wednesday after a Paris court handed him a six-month suspended prison sentence and a three-year ineligibility sentence for failing to declare part of his assets and interests to the French authorities.

Griset was French minister delegate in charge of small and medium enterprises. Griset’s lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve represented him at the trial as the minister was absent and said he will appeal the judgement. 

In October’s trial, the prosecutor requested 10-12 months of suspended jail time for “incomplete and false declaration of his financial situation” to the authorities in August. In addition to a €30,000 fine, the prosecutor demanded a three-year ineligibility sentence, meaning he would be “disqualified from holding public office” during that time.  

Griset was convicted of concealing multiple stock savings plans totaling hundreds of thousands of euros. He was also suspected of hiding money that actually belonged to the Chamber of Trade and Crafts of the Northern France, which he formerly presided over. The court noted that Griset “had shown a real willingness to conceal part of his assets.” 

He claimed to have given the sum back as soon as he resigned from the Chamber and joined the government, but then didn’t declare it. “The money was no longer in my bank account […] I was badly advised,” Griset said to justify the omission, pinning the blame on his banker for the “blunder.”

Griset was the first acting French minister to appear before a criminal court. In mid-September, he said he would “continue (working for the government) as long as the president trusts me.”

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