France Blacklisted Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Philippines over Foreign Aid Fraud

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By Athena Yenko | May 29, 2013 12:38 PM EST

France had reportedly blacklisted Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the Philippines under allegation that these countries refused to extend help to combat foreign aid fraud. The blacklist already included eight of the "non-cooperative states and territories" namely Botswana, Brunei, Nauru, Guatemala. Among other countries blacklisted over foreign aid fraud are Lebanon, Panama, Costa Rica, Dominica, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.

 France banned these countries from using its banks to share out development funds.

 The Philippines was the very first country among the blacklist to express its surprise. The Philippine government said that it will seek clarification from the French government regarding its decision to blacklist the Philippines.

 Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said, "We're trying to get more details on this particular report because, from the media reports that we picked up, it seems that we're in the company of Switzerland and Brunei among others. We'd like to get the scope of the factors that they considered when it came to that particular conclusion because some donations particularly for foreign aid are not directly given to the government. There are NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are also the recipients of grants. So we'd like to get first the universe of what was considered before we respond to it."

 Ms. Valte also said that the French government did not mention the issue when the Philippines worked with the French government on previous "several initiatives" with the Philippines Finance Department.

 Ms. Valte said, "We're trying to get a better handle on what it really is. I understand that we're working with them on the finance side, on several initiatives, and it seems nothing of the sort was discussed."

 Ms. Valte assured that the Philippine government will do its best to look into the matter and will analyse the kinds of assistance given to the country from France and where did the problem arise.

 Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima was tasked to get as much as information on the cause and root of the blacklisting so the Philippine government can act on it.

 Reports said that aides to Development Minister Pascal Canfin kept mum on the exact amount of French foreign aid that were already deposited in the banks of these blacklisted countries.

 French officials said that the blacklisting rooted from the countries' lack of transparency on how they allocated the foreign aid given to them. French officials also highlighted that because of such foreign fraud, the developing countries suffer direly for being constant victim of foreign aid fraud.

 According to French officials, "The aim is primarily preventive, to put pressure on these countries by publicizing this list to progress toward the transparency."

 France's strict blacklisting rooted from the scandal involving France's ex-budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac. The country aimed to recover from the ruining controversy.

 It is to be remembered that Mr. Cahuzac, a reputable crusader against overseas tax deposit, was charged with tax fraud. He admitted in April that he had an overseas account amounting to 600,000 euros or $770,000.

 As much as he promised to pay all his tax debts in France and gave the remaining funds to charity, the case had already ruined the French Socialist government which was known for firmly fighting against tax evasion.

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