French Labour Minister Eric Woerth, the man in charge of heading up crucial pension reform, said on Monday he was thinking about resigning from his position as treasurer of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party.
Woerth has been at the centre of a political donations scandal with his critics accusing him of abusing his position to shield France's richest woman, Liliane Bettancourt, from a tax audit.
The minister was treasurer of Sarkozy's successful 2007 presidential campaign and served as budget minister in charge of tax, prompting accusations of a conflict of interest, especially as his wife worked for Bettencourt's wealth manager.
The government on Sunday said tax inspectors had concluded that Woerth did not abuse his position to interfere in the tax affairs of Bettencourt, the billionaire heiress of the L'Oreal cosmetics empire.
"I haven't thought about resigning (as UMP treasurer) over the last three to four weeks. It's a duty for me," Woerth told Europe 1 radio. " I needed to have this (report) from the General Inspectorate of Finance ... I will think about it (resigning)," he said, declining to give a timeframe for any decision.
The report did not cover allegations by a former bookkeeper for Bettencourt that Woerth was given an illegal donation for Sarkozy's campaign. Police are investigating her statements, which wealth manager Patrice de Maistre has denied.
President Nicolas Sarkozy will try to quell the political donations scandal later on Monday in a television address after losing a safe parliamentary seat in a sign of public anger over the allegations of cash handouts to conservative politicians.
Woerth, who said he did not feel weakened by the scandal, will present the pension reform to the cabinet on Tuesday.
He said the government could also modify by September the text of the legislation covering arduous work in the industrial sector after talks with unions.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 12 Temmuz 2010, 14:57