• Switzerland's news in English
 
French seek Swiss aid on minister's alleged fraud
Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac leaves finance ministry on Wednesday. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

French seek Swiss aid on minister's alleged fraud

Published: 20 Mar 2013 23:34 GMT+01:00

Jérôme Cahuzac stepped down on Tuesday after prosecutors announced there would be a full criminal inquiry into allegations that he had an undeclared UBS bank account in Switzerland.
   
The 60-year-old former cosmetic surgeon is also suspected of moving assets to Singapore in order to hide them from the tax authorities.
   
Cahuzac said he had resigned to ensure that his case did not interfere with or overshadow the functioning of the government and reiterated he was innocent.
   
The magistrates in charge of the investigation, Roger Le Loire and Renaud Van Ruymbeke, will be seeking the cooperation of the Swiss and Singaporean authorities as they try to establish whether Cahuzac had accounts in either country.
   
Although politicians across the political spectrum insisted the former minister should be presumed innocent, there was widespread acknowledgement that his position in the government had been made untenable by the announcement of the probe.
   
Cahuzac had been charged with overseeing the complex array of spending cuts and tax rises required if France is to meet its commitments to cutting its deficit in line with EU targets.
   
"You don't replace Jérôme Cahuzac, you can only succeed him," the new budget minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said on Wednesday in a tribute that underlined his outgoing colleague's status as a heavyweight member of President François Hollande's cabinet.
   
But aides to Hollande indicated that the president had been left with no option but to get rid of the budget minister, particularly as his brief included responsibility for clamping down on exactly the kind of tax dodging that the former minister is accused of.
   
"It was best to act quickly, before the judicial soap opera became a political one," a source close to Hollande told AFP.
   
As well as dealing a serious blow to Hollande's administration, Cahuzac's resignation represented a landmark moment in the French media landscape.
   
The story was broken, in January, by Mediapart, a news website with a hard-hitting style and investigative culture that contrasts with the generally more cautious approach of traditional print and broadcasting media in France.
   
The announcement of a criminal investigation based on Mediapart's reports is a significant boost to the credibility of the site, acknowledged editor-in-chief Francois Bonnet.
   
"Our only satisfaction is in seeing the quality of our journalism recognised," Bonnet told AFP.
   
"For months we have been in the crossfire from a section of our own profession, which has been extremely disagreeable, so it is excellent news that our work has resulted in an independent inquiry, which is what we have asked for since the beginning."
   
According to Mediapart, Cahuzac held funds in an account with UBS until 2010 and, in breach of French law, failed to declare the account to the French tax authorities.
   
The existence of the account was reportedly confirmed by Cahuzac himself in a message he left, apparently inadvertently, on the answer machine of a political rival in 2000.
   
Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that police experts had concluded it was highly likely that the voice on the recording was Cahuzac's.
   
The former minister has denied ever holding a UBS or any other overseas bank account and dismissed the allegations against him as "slanderous."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Singer Udo Juergens dies suddenly aged 80
Juergens died unexpectedly. Photo: AFP

Singer Udo Juergens dies suddenly aged 80

Swiss-Austrian crooner Udo Juergens, whose more than 50-year career was studded with hits in languages ranging from German to Japanese, died on Sunday following a heart attack. He was 80. READ  

SBB moots free coffee for off-peak train users
The SBB is responding to complaints that trains are overcrowded. Photo: ZO/AvU

SBB moots free coffee for off-peak train users

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is considering options to ease train congestion next year, including incentives - such as free coffee - to travel outside rush hours. READ  

Ex-banker admits lying over French tax fraud
Pierre Condamin-Gerbier. Photo: AFP

Ex-banker admits lying over French tax fraud

A man who acknowledged lying when he served as a key witness in a major French tax fraud investigation was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term in the Swiss canton of Ticino on Friday. READ  

Swiss spills beans about guarding the pope
Photo: David Geisser

Swiss spills beans about guarding the pope

Although better known today for their colourful uniforms than their centuries-old reputation as fearless warriors, the Swiss Guards remain a powerful symbol of the Vatican. The Local speaks to David Geisser, one of the latest recruits, about a career protecting popes.
 READ  

Massive write-downs soak Axpo in red ink
Photo: Axpo

Massive write-downs soak Axpo in red ink

Swiss utility company Axpo said on Friday that eroding wholesale prices for electricity have forced it to write down 1.5 billion francs on the value of its power plants and energy supply contracts. READ  

Banks vow negative rates won't be passed on
Photo: Yoshiko Kusano/Photopress

Banks vow negative rates won't be passed on

Major banks in Switzerland say they have no intention of charging small savers negative interest rates in the wake of the Swiss National Bank’s decision this week to charge such rates to financial institutions. READ  

Suspected stabber Nabilla freed from prison
Photo: AFP

Suspected stabber Nabilla freed from prison

Swiss model and French reality TV star Nabilla Benattia left a women’s prison in Versailles, France on Thursday on conditional release while facing charges of attempted murder after stabbing her boyfriend. READ  

Swiss school grad 'hero' among café siege victims
Photo: César Ritz Colleges/Facebook

Swiss school grad 'hero' among café siege victims

César Ritz Colleges, a Swiss hotel management school group, issued a tribute on its Facebook page to a former graduate who died while trying to end this week’s café hostage-taking incident in Sydney, Australia that left three people dead and five people injured. READ  

Forecast cuts 2015 Swiss economic growth
What, me worry? Swiss economy seen as continuing to defy trend in eurozone. Photo: Credit Suisse

Forecast cuts 2015 Swiss economic growth

The Swiss federal government's experts' group says Switzerland's economic prospects remain favourable in a "risky environment" although it cut its growth forecast for 2015. READ  

French businessman plans takeover of Orange

French businessman plans takeover of Orange

Apax Funds has announced it is selling Orange Switzerland, the country’s third largest mobile operator, to NJJ Capital, a holding company owned by French businessman Xavier Niel for 2.8 billion francs. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
The Local's top ten snow sport alternatives to skiing in Switzerland
International
Swiss chocolate café at centre of hostage-taking drama Down Under
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Features
Exploring the 'most beautiful village' in French-speaking Switzerland
Business & Money
Italian thieves steal 260 tons of Swiss Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate
National
World's longest train tunnel — under the Swiss Alps — set to open in 2016
National
Switzerland's Christmas market season gets into full swing
National
Porn film on video screen spices up fare at Swiss McDonald's restaurant
National
Masturbation scene in Swiss TV ad for Media Markt draws complaints
National
Cantonal lawmakers end 'happy hours' tippling in Vaud pubs and bars
Politics
Former concert pianist Sommaruga elected as next Swiss president
Culture
Jailed German art forger's paintings go on sale at Bern gallery
Business & Money
Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad's family listed as Switzerland's richest
Features
Long-time expats face dilemma: to be or not to be a Swiss citizen
National
Switzerland's voters massively reject strict immigration limits
Business & Money
Pieces of Napoleon's auctioned hair to be put in Geneva luxury watches
National
Activists petition federal government for ban on eating cats and dogs
National
Swiss meat firm faces scandal over alleged false labelling of products
Sport
Federer victory gives Switzerland its first Davis Cup tennis title
Business & Money
Italy's PM upset over Swiss mogul's acquittal in asbestos deaths
Business & Money
University of Zurich study finds 'banker's oath' could spur honesty
National
Swiss National Bank chief calls proposal to boost gold reserves 'fatal'
National
Mudslides kill four people in Ticino and neighbouring Italy
Culture
British X Factor star seeks internet support for Swiss Eurovision place
National
Court overturns ban by backing right for schoolgirl to wear scarf
National
Swiss ranking for English skills worsens among non-Anglo countries
Culture
Swiss model and French TV star Nabilla held for 'attempted murder'
Travel
Switzerland's Zermatt voted best ski resort in the Alps by skiers
Sport
VIDEO: FC Zurich claims crime after 'vicious' tackle hospitalizes player
Tech
Federal government announces new '.swiss' internet domain name
National
Zany emergency: Basel firefighters rescue ass stuck in manhole
Business & Money
American jury clears former UBS top executive of tax fraud
International
Switzerland ranks second to Norway in global 'prosperity' index
National
Financial regulator bans former Coop Bank CEO for three years
International
Switzerland slips in World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings
National
Job candidates unhappy with hiring process in Switzerland
National
Glacier 3000 opens new foot bridge spanning two mountains in Vaud
National
Swiss seek special Unesco heritage listing for yodelling and watchmaking
International
Switzerland regarded as best place in world for expats: global survey
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Quarter of workers in Switzerland 'stressed out': new survey
Travel
Lonely Planet ranks Zermatt among top places to visit in 2015
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,031
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply