December 19, 2017 / 5:37 PM / a year ago

French ministers tell anti-graft agency: no law revamp for now

PARIS (Reuters) - Two French ministers said on Tuesday they had no immediate plans to overhaul legislation to make it easier to target corrupt foreign firms - a change demanded by their own anti-graft agency.

Charles Duchaine, head of the new AFA anti-graft body, told Reuters last week that the current law, brought in just a year ago, had to be re-drawn as it gave him almost no powers to pursue foreign companies.

He repeated the point at a conference on Tuesday. But Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet responded at the same event that she wanted to see how the “Sapin 2” legislation worked on the ground before making any alterations.

“We’re not going to rewrite the law every morning,” she said.

Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin told the conference: “It is important that the agency first gets on with its work.”

Under the law, the AFA agency can only target public bodies and companies with more than 500 employees and turnover of above 100 million euros ($118.19 million), or subsidiaries of foreign companies that are headquartered in France and meet those two criteria.

AFA’s work has got off to a slow start. It was created by the Sapin 2 act a year ago but only launched its first investigations in October. The ministers said there was funding to increase the number of AFA agents to 70 from 50.

Reporting by Myriam Rivet; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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