Ex-bud­get min­is­ter on trial for mas­sive tax fraud

The Myanmar Times - - World -

FRANCE’S dis­graced for­mer bud­get min­is­ter Jerome Cahuzac has gone on trial for stash­ing mil­lions abroad while chas­ing tax cheats at home.

The 64-year-old for­mer ris­ing star in the French So­cial­ist Party faces charges of tax eva­sion and money laun­der­ing as well as un­der-declar­ing the value of his for­tune when he took up his post in 2012.

He and his ex-wife Pa­tri­cia Me­nard – with whom he ran a lu­cra­tive hair trans­plant clinic – each face up to seven years in jail and 1 mil­lion eu­ros (US$1.1 mil­lion) in fines if con­victed.

Also in the dock are their ad­vis­ers, Swiss banker Fran­cois Reyl and lawyer Philippe Houman who is based in Dubai.

The Reyl bank of Geneva, which in 2009 al­legedly helped Mr Cahuzac trans­fer funds to Sin­ga­pore to avoid de­tec­tion by French tax au­thor­i­ties, is also be­ing tried.

The story of the fraud, car­ried out be­tween 1992 and 2013, reads like a cross be­tween a cheap air­port novel and an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial crime man­ual.

In one episode, Mr Cahuzac, us­ing the co­de­name “Birdie”, al­legedly re­ceived two cash pay­ments of 10,000 eu­ros each on the streets of Paris.

Mr Cahuzac ini­tially de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, lodg­ing a defama­tion suit against the Me­di­a­part news web­site that broke the story in De­cem­ber 2012.

Footage of the min­is­ter ly­ing to par­lia­ment was re­peated in an end­less loop on French me­dia af­ter he con­fessed in April 2013 to hold­ing a Swiss bank ac­count.

The trial is sched­uled to run un­til Septem­ber 15. –

Photo: AFP

This court sketch made on Septem­ber 5 Me­nard (cen­tre), Swiss banker Fran­cois tax fraud trial in Paris.

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