Paris (AFP)

Repetitive oversight, accusations of conflict of interest and prohibited combination of activities: the case of the High Commissioner for Pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye illustrates the difficulty for certain politicians to comply with the rules of transparency.

The oppositions fell again Sunday with shortened arms on the "Mr. pensions" of the government, after the revelation by Le Monde that it is not 3, but 13 additional mandates - including 11 volunteers - which he forgot to declare to the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP). It also revised upward certain remunerations.

"The suspicion of conflicts of interest" with the world of insurance "totally disqualifies him", according to the president of RN Marine Le Pen. "This man is a liar. Let him go, with his project too" on pensions, said Alexis Corbière (LFI), while the architect of the reform did not exclude himself from resigning.

Considering the sums affected, the "lesson (done) to the citizens" and the "conflict of interest", the general secretary of the CGT Philippe Martinez also believes that he cannot stay in government. The high commissioner is "the anti-new world of Mr. Macron," he said on BFMTV.

The government is supporting him: "Jean-Paul Delevoye's good faith is total" and he settled once the shortcomings were reported, says Edouard Philippe, when Minister Julien Denormandie notes that "the mandate in which there had remuneration, this one he had declared ".

He is the chairman of Parallaxe, an educational think tank dependent on the IGS training group. However, the Constitution prohibits "any professional activity" to members of the government.

Faced with the controversy and the hashtag #DelevoyeGate on social networks, the High Commissioner left this function and undertook to reimburse the amounts collected.

But for some elected officials as for the Anticor association, the cause is heard. "If a parliamentarian allowed this, @hatvp would forward his case to justice," tweeted Senator LR Catherine Procaccia. Anticor reserves the possibility of such a referral.

- "Lightness" at least -

A meeting of the college of the HATVP is held Wednesday, which will be the last of its current president Jean-Louis Nadal. "Rigorous and independent body" born after the Cahuzac scandal in 2013, the High Authority "will say the law", according to the president of the Assembly Richard Ferrand (LREM) on France 3.

According to its case law, it takes legal action in the event of a "substantial omission" of the interests of a declarant who had intended to conceal.

Other options: the HATVP can carry out a simple "assessment", or ask the interested party to "move away" from the files where he would be in conflict of interest.

"Jean-Paul Delevoye took note of his lightness, he had a rapid reaction", estimates with AFP René Dosière, president of the Observatory of Public Ethics, referring a possible sanction to the policy rather than Justice.

This former PS deputy regrets that the government did not follow his recommendation, this summer during the Rugy affair, to attach an ethics officer.

"Delevoye has been used to signing on to boards of directors for years, earning 15-18,000 euros per month ... He may have thought it would pass", his cumulative earnings, tackles a parliamentary source LREM.

How could Jean-Paul Delevoye, who was late in completing his declaration of interest after entering government in September, be negligent?

"I was extremely attentive to my declaration of assets", under control by the HATVP and not yet public, and "I admit that I did not pay the same attention to my declaration of interests", he admits.

The first statement verifies that there is no personal enrichment, and is at the origin of most legal cases. The second is to prevent a private interest from interfering with a public service. Both have been mandatory since the previous five-year period for 15,000 elected officials and public officials.

They entered the customs, sometimes with some reluctance. Thus, Edouard Philippe himself, then LR deputy who had voted against the transparency laws of 2013, had fulfilled them casually the following year, before complying with them at the end of their mandate.

© 2019 AFP