Swiss Account of Ex-Minister Further Darkens Hollande’s Political Fortunes

Former French Minister responsible for hunting tax dodgers and enforcing austerity acknowledges claims he has a secret Swiss bank account, dealing another blow to President François Hollande's slumping fortunes as appeal of extreme-right rises.

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The troubling political outlook for French President François Hollande darkened further April 2, after his former austerity-enforcing Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac admitted to possessing a secret Swiss bank account whose existence he previously denied. The avowal not only delivers a blow to Hollande’s campaign pledge to return transparency and accountability to government. It also undermines the President’s attempts to convince public opinion to accept deficit-reduction efforts he said were being exacted from all sections and actors of French society.

Cahuzac resigned his cabinet position March 19 just hours after French prosecutors launched an official inquiry into suspicions of tax fraud. Despite that, the former amateur boxer never flinched from earlier, insistent denials of wrongdoing—and even launched slander proceedings against online Mediapart.fr publication that first broke the allegations. That position of innocence became harder to maintain after an audio recording Mediapart produced of someone fretting about the ability to keep his Swiss account secret from potential inquiry was verified by vocal testing to be that of Cahuzac. By March 26 he’d become sufficiently sure the truth would come out that Cahuzac wrote a letter to the two investigative magistrates overseeing the case to request an interview—a session of mea culpa Cahuzac revealed  on his web site Tuesday afternoon.

(MORE: Amid the Depardieu Tax Debacle, France’s Budget Minister Accused of Dodging Taxes)

“I met the two judges today,” Cahuzac wrote April 2. “I confirmed to them the existence of the account, and informed them that I’ve already given instructions necessary for all assets deposed in the count—which has not been added to for around 12 years—(worth) around €600,000 euros ($768,000) be repatriated to my Paris bank…Thinking I could avoid confronting a past I considered long gone was an unspeakable error. I will now face this reality in complete transparency.”

He’ll have little choice. The result of his avowal to judges led to Cahuzac’s immediate placement under investigation —a step under France’s legal system akin to indictment. The crimes of tax evasion and money laundering involved carry potential prison terms in case of conviction. Even should he avoid a jail sentence, the former plastic surgeon’s career in politics is now almost certainly over. As a cabinet member who made the hunt for wealthy tax dodgers a priority—and who used his reputation of honesty and discipline to enforce unpopular austerity measures on fellow ministers and the public alike—Cahuzac’s repeated lying in the affair may prove as damaging as the illicit money moves that gave rise to it.

Yet most observers in France were speculating more about how the new twist in the case would affect Hollande. The painstaking treatment of France’s financial crisis and stagnating economy have led his approval ratings to slump since taking office in May, with the latest polls in late March showing support down to just 27%. Hollande’s fortunes have also been undermined by media-loving members of his cabinets prone to making controversial statements, or staking out frontally opposed positions to one another in public. Hollande’s own televised effort March 28 to reconnect with public opinion and fully explain his policy strategy and plan for turning France’s economic woes around was largely panned by pundits.

The confession of a former cabinet pillar like Cahuzac now also risks tainting Hollande by association, and could lead some voters to ponder the President’s own reputation of honesty and openness. It was in part due to that concern that the Elysée immediately issued a communiqué noting the “great severity” with which Hollande took in the news. It also condemned the “unpardonable moral error” the ex-Budget Minister committed by lying to “the highest authorities of the state and before the national representation” of parliament.

“For a political leader, two virtues are obligatory,” the Elysée statement read. “Exemplarity, and the truth.”

Given the on-going legal procedures dogging leading members of the former ruling right—including the official implication of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy in an illicit campaign financing scandal March 28—there will be limited political hay conservatives can make with Cahuzac’s avowal. Others will have more opportunity.

Extreme-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen has never ceased calling allegations and inquiries of wrong doing on both the left and right proof of her claims France’s mainstream parties are alike—and all corrupt. Salvation, she argues, lies only in throwing dishonest and discredited politicians who’ve ruled the nation for decades out, and replacing them with untainted new blood of her forces. Many voters are listening.

In parliamentary polling last June, the NF won two legislative seats—including one by Le Pen’s niece—marking the party’s first return to parliament in decades. In a legislative by-election March 24, Le Pen’s party narrowly lost in run-off polling against a conservative rival after the Socialist candidate was eliminated in the first round. And even before his numbers slipped anew later in the month, Hollande found himself trailing Le Pen in approval surveys taken in mid-March.

To be sure, Hollande has four long years—and promise of vital economic improvement— to reverse his own slide as well as the populist allure of challengers like Le Pen. But Cahuzac’s confession will make it more difficult to rebuff public perceptions of spreading political dishonesty—or convince crisis weary French voters to believe in the painful efforts of financial sacrifice they see some leaders dodging.

(MORE: Nicolas Sarkozy’s Battle With France’s Judiciary Leads to Death Threats)

2 comments
JackLoach
JackLoach

Sods ----- Law.

Dec.---- 2014.


For almost two decades we have strived to get justice for the injustice we have suffered at the hands of a world renowned bank--- PICTET & CIE. BANK.


Two yorkshiremen both running their own small family businesses trying to resolve the problem by taking all the correct legal procedures to recover their monies.


The matter was raised in Parliament – twice-- the FSA investigated the matter concluding that PICTET had rogues operating in their London Bank --- but the rogues had left ---saying no one left to prosecute.??? ----- so there.


We then approached the Financial Ombudsman Service. (FOS) --- our case was dealt with by seven different people ---- then our numerous E-Mails were ignored --- nobody would speak to us -------so there.


We then asked the SFO ( Serious Fraud Office.) to investigate our case ---- the criteria of our case ticked all their boxes. --- we were instructed not to send them

any documents/evidence.------ in fact they wrote to us advising us to go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau.(CAB.)

Richard Alderman the SFO boss ---- who responded to our letter was the same man who would not investigate the “ Madoff” scandal or the “Libor” fiasco.

The MP's committee ---- said he was sloppy--- and the SFO was run like “ Fred Karno's Circus” ----- it was an office of fraud.----- so there.


Our M.P. approached our local Chief Constable to investigate----- he was called---- Sir Norman Bettison--- Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police ---- a force that made “ Dad's Army” look like the S.A.S. They were inept – corrupt ---malicious --- from top to bottom. We were criminally dealt with by the Forces Solicitor---- the Head of the Economic Crime Unit ----and the Chief Constable ----- so there.


We were then advised to pass our complaint against West Yorkshire Police to the I.P.C.C. – which we did --- they advised us to make our complaint to ---- the West Yorkshire Police --- we did with reluctance --- all we got was abuse and obfuscation. ----- so there.


Sir Norman Bettison ---- The Forces solicitor--- and the Head of the Economic Crime ---- have all been removed from their posts and facing criminal allegations.

------ so there.


We even sought justice through the Courts --- culminating in a visit to the Court of Appeal-London.--- On leaving the Courts of Appeal that day our barrister a “rising star” informed us --- that if that was British Justice then you can keep it. He quit the law and moved to Canada ----- so there.


A few years later we learned that one of the judges ( Lord Justice.) in our case at the Court of Appeal was related to a senior executive of the Pictet Bank -----so there.


The Ministry of Justice passed our case to Lord Myners to investigate --- we would rather have had Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck do it. --- to this day we don't know

---whether he did anything or not ---- probably not --- seeing that his wife was on the Pictet Prix Board.


Pictet & Cie .Bank --- voted private bank of the year 2013.

Ivan Pictet ---- Voted banker of the year 2012. ---- the senior partner --- lied on numerous occasions and had documents destroyed --- also said genuine documents were forgeries. ----- so there.


Ivan Pictet in Oct. 2013 ---- Given the Legion of Honour --- but saying that ---- honours were given to Hitler --- Eichmann --- Mussolini ---Franco --- he's in fitting company. ----so there.


MONTY RAPHAEL.Q.C. -- Peters & Peters.London. They were the banks lawyers.

Monty Raphael.Q.C. along with Ivan Pictet withheld crucial documents requested by the High Court ---- the FSA ---- and the police Fraud Squad. ----so there.


Monty Raphael.Q.C. became an Honorary Queens Counsellor in March. 2012.

Monty Raphael.Q.C. became a Master of the Bench in Nov.2012.

An expert in Fraud ---the Doyen of Fraud Lawyers. ----- so there.


This says a lot about Banks --- the consensus of opinion is that they are highly paid “crooks” ---- no wonder they voted Ivan Pictet banker of the year.


It appears that crimes in the “establishment.” are honoured by their peers.

HONOURS AMONG THIEVES.”


Full Story.---- “google ”


Insert.----- The Crimes of ----- Pictet & Cie Bank.

or insert

Ivan Pictet/ Monty Raphael Q.C.

DavidTrezise
DavidTrezise

Did this Crumley fellow really write the article? It reads like a bad translation from French.