BUDGET Minister Jérôme Cahuzac has quit after judges in Paris opened an investigation into claims he had avoided tax by holding an illegal undeclared bank account in Switzerland.
Cahuzac was replaced by European Affairs Minister Jérôme Cazeneuve at the right hand of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and President Hollande.
He maintained his innocence in resigning and vehemently denounced the “libellous nature” of the accusations which came from news website Mediapart. He said he resigned “for the good of the government”.
His departure followed the statement by the Paris prosecution service that police scientists had examined a 2000 recordings from Mediapart of a voice admitting ownership of a Swiss account – and said it was Cahuzac’s. Prosecutors had decided to open a fraud inquiry to investigate the claims.
After the claims were first made at the end of 2012, Cahuzac told MPs in the National Assembly: “I do not have, I have never had a foreign bank account. Not now, not before.”
The former cardiologist and hair transplant surgeon has led efforts by the Hollande government to reduce its public deficit and cut tax evasion. It is the first serious scandal to hit the government, which had pledged to be “beyond reproach” after the elections last year.