• Switzerland edition
 
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
Updated: 20 Mar 2013 23:34 GMT+01:00

French authorities on Wednesday appointed two top magistrates to oversee an international probe into suspected tax fraud involving a Swiss bank account that has forced France's budget minister to resign.

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."

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races
Runners take in mountain scenery in the Aletsch half marathon. Photo: Kathy Zimmerman

Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races


From the simply beautiful to the downright barmy, Switzerland's vast array of running races are a great way for expats to integrate into the Swiss way of life, The Local's Caroline Bishop learns. READ () »

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis on Thursday posted a 24-percent jump in first-quarter net profit from the same period a year earlier, driven largely by the sale of a blood transfusion diagnostics unit. READ () »

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide

A Neuchâtel cantonal court has overturned the conviction of a doctor found guilty of breaking the law by helping an 89-year-old man die without getting a proper diagnosis of his condition. READ () »

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'
Photo: Michael Buholzer

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'

The Swiss will vote on a proposal to ban speculation on agricultural commodities and food, the government said on Wednesday, announcing that organizers had gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum. READ () »

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs
Swiss People's Party MP Luzi Stamm. Photo: Federal Parliament

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs

Six members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) wanted to discreetly visit Iran without publicity last week but one of them inadvertently made the trip public in a tweet. 
 READ () »

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border
"Bush meat" seized by customs agents. Photo: Federal Customs Administration

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border

A Frenchman living in Switzerland was caught entering the country from France with unusual contraband in his suitcase: 16 kilograms of meat from exotic species native to the African jungle. READ () »

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes
WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Yann Forget

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes

The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) hit back on Wednesday against vaccine deniers who claim that immunization is pointless, risky and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided. READ () »

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards
Photo: Malcolm Curtis/The Local

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards

Voters in the canton of Vaud are set to go to the polls for a third time next month to decide on the future of Lavaux, the celebrated vineyard region east of Lausanne. READ () »

Zurich Insurance study warns of cyber risks
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Zurich Insurance study warns of cyber risks

Organizations must dramatically improve their response to cyber risks to avoid a new global shock on the scale of the financial crisis that rocked the world in 2008, a study from a Swiss-based insurer concludes. READ () »

Zurich inaugurates city's giant quartzite plaza
Image: Raumgleiter

Zurich inaugurates city's giant quartzite plaza

The city of Zurich inaugurated the largest plaza in Switzerland on Tuesday night after a 17.2-million-franc ($19.5-million) facelift. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Bern finds solution for Erasmus student exchange programme
National
Bern zoo faces animal cruelty charges over bear cub deaths
Society
Swiss alpine ski champion announces same-sex marriage
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Advertisement:
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
International
Switzerland's residents are the happiest in the OECD: report
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

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

2,088
jobs available