Ex-budget minister on trial for massive tax fraud
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. –
This court sketch made on September 5 Menard (centre), Swiss banker Francois tax fraud trial in Paris.