French budget chief denies claim of Swiss account

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Associated Press

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 6:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 8:06 AM

PARIS (AP) — French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac is filing a legal complaint against a website that claims he has hidden money from French tax authorities in offshore accounts — while he has been leading the country's campaign against tax evaders.

The Mediapart website reported Tuesday that Cahuzac had a secret Swiss bank account until 2010, when the funds were transferred to Singapore. It was not clear if the site contends the account is still open.

Cahuzac has led France's crackdown on tax evasion this year — part of a larger effort to bring in more money to cut the country's deficit.

Governments across Europe have cracked down on the practice of avoiding higher tax bills in one country by opening secret accounts in another. Switzerland, for example, has recently begun to help out foreign tax offices, including revealing the identities of account holders.

These secret accounts have touched off a firestorm in nearly bankrupt Greece, where a journalist published a list of Greeks who allegedly hold Swiss bank accounts.

Cahuzac is going after Mediapart for defamation and says he has never had a foreign account. He told French radio RTL on Wednesday that the site's claims were "delirious" and that the site refused to show him the evidence cited in the report.

The site quotes from the memo that a former tax inspector sent to his bosses, claiming to have information indicating Cahuzac had an undeclared Swiss account.

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