A vitriolic response. Following the publication on Friday of an article in Le Monde accusing him of expense reports considered exorbitant, the governor of the Bank of France François Villeroy de Galhau expressed his “stupefaction” in a right of reply sent to the newspaper , and also published on the institution’s website. Regretting a “purely personal attack, and without any basis”, the manager insisted on justifying the amounts put forward in the article in terms of hotel nights or even business class flights. As reported by Le Monde, he “accumulated more than 50,700 euros in expenses linked to his professional travel and meals for the year 2023 alone”. A figure which is largely explained, according to the newspaper, “by the governor’s taste for luxury hotels and business class flights”.

If the senior official does not deny this amount – the Bank of France itself having passed these notes to the journalist -, he considers in the preamble that “the article should have started by specifying that all of these trips correspond to European obligations and strong international partners of the Banque de France”, specifying that “the Banque de France, through its governor, is a member of the ECB Council; of the G7, the G20 and the IMF Assemblies”, and that he himself is “president of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)”.

Going into detail about his expenses, dissected in the article by our colleagues, the former deputy general director of BNP Paribas specifies on the one hand that his plane bills (27,419 euros) are “essentially three trips long haul (17,478 euros): for the G20 in India in February, for the IMF annual meetings in the United States in April, and for the G7 in Japan in May. He also emphasizes that he travels in business class rather than economy class, as do “public leaders in France and in foreign countries, for reasons of work, security and confidentiality”.

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It is especially regarding his hotel costs that the governor judges that the facts have been twisted in the article. The latter “suggesting that I systematically favor “four and five star hotels”, points out François Villeroy de Galhau. It’s wrong.” And he lists several examples: a stay in Frankfurt in May 2023 where he would have chosen “to stay in a lower budget hotel than that traditionally negotiated at the ECB, at 134 euros per night”; another in Bengaluru in India, in a hotel at 368 euros per night, whose “choice was imposed by the location of the G20 and the organizers themselves”.

Or even “the special case” of a night in Davos, for its World Forum, at 862 euros: “the article fails to specify that I therefore limited the duration of my stay to a minimum: a single night for three public interventions by the Banque de France; and that I went to Davos by train from Paris,” defends the man who has been at the head of the Banque de France for nine years. “In total, excluding the particular case of Davos, the average cost per night is 265 euros, which is a controlled budget compared to large destination cities,” he concludes.

The manager questions the reasons for such an article. “Is this the desire to harm the Banque de France, and prevent it from carrying out its European and international missions? Is it to silence one of the independent voices, which effectively sheds light – without ever polemicizing – on our public finance situation?”, he writes, even accusing Le Monde of “giving in to a populist temptation”. As provided for by law, the right of reply of the head of the Bank of France was added this Saturday morning at the foot of the article in Le Monde on the internet.