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Taxing times for Prez Hollande, minister admits to hush account

world Updated: Apr 04, 2013 00:48 IST
Noopur Tiwari

French President Francois Hollande’s government is struggling to save it’s battered image as its former budget minister, Jérome Cahuzac, who was in charge of fighting tax fraud, admitted that he had been lying about a secret offshore bank account.

“I was caught in a spiral of lies” said Cahuzac on his blog, after having publicly denied on several counts over the last four months, that he had held a secret overseas account for 20 years, hoarding 600,000 euros.

The former budget minister had made a declaration before the French parliament last December, insisting, that he had never held any account abroad.

Media reports revealed that an investigation led by Swiss authorities had traced an undeclared bank account to Cahuzac whose lawyer had access to this information. The confession came before the French authorities could be informed.

An audio recording of an alleged conversation between Cahuzac and his wealth manager was released last year by French news website “Mediapart” where the ex-minister reportedly said, “It bugs me that I have an account there.

UBS after all is not really the most well hidden of all banks.” Cahuzac denied it was him, saying “It can’t be me because I never had a foreign account.”

In a last minute damage control effort, President Hollande released a special message for French TV saying Cahuzac had committed “an unpardonable moral error” and had betrayed French people.

Hollande pledged he would right away introduce reforms to strengthen the judiciary, to monitor ministers’ wealth and to slap a lifelong ban on politicians convicted of fiscal fraud.