Former French Minister Tried Stashing Over N3bn

Jérôme Cahuzac
Jérôme Cahuzac

Reports have revealed former government minister Jérôme Cahuzac tried to deposit €15m (about N3bn) into a Geneva bank four years ago, in the latest twist to a scandal that has rocked France.

Cahuzac was forced to resign from his job as budget minister in charge of clamping down on tax evasion last month after it was revealed he had hidden €600,000 (about N123m) from the French taxman in a secret Swiss bank account.

The minister lied through his teeth, denying vigorously the allegations. He even protested his innocence face to face with President François Hollande and before the French parliament, saying: “I do not have a foreign bank account.”

He however admitted last week he had lied, causing shock waves though political circles and among the public. A poll on Sunday revealed almost one third of French electors wanted the Assemblée Nationale dissolved and new legislative elections less than a year after the last.

Radio Télévision Suisse on Sunday claimed to have information from “banking sources” that Cahuzac had tried to transfer €15m to a Geneva bank in 2009. The bank, it reported, refused to accept the money fearing “future complications” because Cahuzac was a political figure. At the time, Switzerland had declared it was prepared to share information and cooperate legally in cases of fiscal evasion.

Cahuzac is now under formal criminal investigation for “laundering the proceeds of fiscal fraud”. On Sunday evening his lawyer Jean Veil denied the new allegations.

The scandal has sparked one of the worst political crises in decades and added huge pressure to the beleaguered Hollande.

Libération newspaper wrote that the crisis was “so fundamental” that the “contract of trust between people and government has now been broken”.