Europe

Ex-French minister Cahuzac probed for alleged tax fraud

  • 2 April 2013
  • From the section Europe
Jerome Cahuzac. Photo: March 2013
Jerome Cahuzac gained a reputation as a vocal crusader against overseas tax havens

Former French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac has been placed under formal investigation over alleged tax fraud, his lawyer has said.

It comes as Mr Cahuzac admitted to having had a foreign bank account.

The ex-minister had until now denied a report by investigative website Mediapart that he kept an undeclared Swiss bank account until 2010.

Mr Cahuzac - who gained a reputation as a vocal crusader against the use of overseas tax havens - quit in March.

'Spiral of lies'

Mr Cahuzac said he made the admission about the bank account during a meeting with investigating magistrates on Tuesday.

In a statement, he said he had about 600,000 euros (£509,000; $770,000) in the account.

He also asked for forgiveness from French President Francois Hollande and his former government colleagues.

"I was caught in a spiral of lies and lost my way. I am devastated by guilt," the statement said, quoted by the AFP news agency.

"It was an unspeakable mistake to think that I could avoid confronting a past that I wanted to consider behind me. I will now face this reality with all transparency," the statement said.

Mr Cahuzac had earlier insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He was a plastic surgeon before entering politics.

Correspondents say the scandal is embarrassing for the French Socialist government which has made fighting tax evasion a priority, as it tries to cut public debt.

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