Ex-French budget minister jailed for tax fraud | News | DW | 08.12.2016
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Ex-French budget minister jailed for tax fraud

Jerome Cahuzac, who once led a French government crackdown on tax evasion, has been found guilty of that same crime. According to a Paris court, his method of evasion surpassed other cases.

Former French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for hiding an offshore bank account.

A court in Paris ruled that Cahuzac had hidden his wealth in tax havens around the world, committing irregularities "of an extraordinary and rare seriousness."

The affair surrounding Cahuzac has been of great embarrassment to President Francois Hollande, who on taking office in 2012 had pledged to avoid the corruption scandals that have plagued previous French governments.

Hoist with his own petard

As budget minister, Cahuzac, 64, had been tasked with leading the fight against tax dodgers. His ex-wife, Patricia Menard, was also given a two-year sentence for her role in concealing millions of euros in offshore accounts.

Cahuzac stepped down in 2013, after admitting to having held an illegal foreign bank account for 20 years, first in Switzerland and then in Singapore. Before that, however, he had long vehemently denied that such an account existed.

The scandal resulted in Cahuzac being expelled from the Socialist Party after being a member since the 1970s. It also heightened public mistrust of France's political class and triggered calls for more transparency.

Cahuzac and his ex-wife have already paid 2.3 million euros (2.5 million) in back taxes to French authorities. The Reyl bank of Geneva, Switzerland, was also fined 1.875 million euros for its part in the affair.

tj/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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