In a televised address from the presidential palace, French President Francois Hollande announced new measures to be taken to prevent corruption in public office after a former budget minister was investigated for tax evasion.
Hollande called for the publication of tax sheets for ministers and members of parliament (MPs) and said that French politicians convicted for corruption or tax fraud in the past will be ineligible for re-admittance to public office for life.
The beleaguered leader said steps would be taken to reinforce independence of the justice system and would fight against any conflicts of interest for elected public officers.
Hollande's comments come after the country's former budget minister admitted on Tuesday to holding a secret 600,000-euro foreign bank account.
Jerome Cahuzac's surprise admission after months of denying allegations he held a Swiss account has deeply embarrassed Hollande, who had promised an irreproachable team of ministers.
Cahuzac, who until he resigned two weeks ago was in charge of French finances, acknowledged having the undeclared foreign account and his lawyer said he had been put under formal investigation.
If charged as a result of the investigation and found guilty in court, Cahuzac, a former plastic surgeon, faces up to five years in prison and a 375,000 euro ($481,400) fine.
As opposition politicians leaped to condemn the ruling Socialist Party, Hollande said Cahuzac had committed an "unpardonable moral error" by denying the existence of the account for so long.
Hollande is struggling with crumbling approval ratings over his failure to pull the economy out of stagnation as well as a tarnished international image after admitting he will miss 2013 growth and deficit targets. Many have scorned his plan for a 75 percent tax on million-euro incomes.
"This marks the definitive end of the moral left that likes to give lessons," said Jean-Francois Cope, head of the conservative UMP that Hollande ousted from power last May, adding it was hard to believe the president was in the dark.
"Francois Hollande said his would be an exemplary Republic. What credit can we now accord his governmental team?"