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Socialists drop Cahuzac from party after tax scandal

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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-04-10

France's ruling Socialists have revoked party membership from disgraced former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who resigned in March and later revealed that he hid money in a Swiss bank account.

France's ruling Socialists have revoked party membership from disgraced former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who resigned on March 19 and later revealed that he hid money in a Swiss bank account.

Cahuzac admitted last week to having an undeclared bank account containing some €600,000 ($770,000).

Cahuzac's resignation plunged the Socialist government of François Hollande into uncertainty, compounded by fresh claims in the French media that his foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, might also hold a Swiss bank account.

Fabius has strongly denied the allegations.

In a bid to offset public outrage over the Cahuzac scandal, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Monday that government ministers will be required to declare their assets publicly by April 15.

French politicians began revealing their holdings on Tuesday.

The government will also put forward a law on financial transparency among ministers and other top officials by April 24, with plans for it to be adopted by the summer.

New budget chief asks media for help

The tax fraud scandal was further complicated by revelations that Hollande's former campaign treasurer had been a partner in two firms based in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven.

This revelation was part of the wide-ranging "Offshore Leaks" probe into the secret world of tax havens, conducted by 36 international media outlets and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The ICIJ managed to obtain a cache of 2.5 million files that revealed "the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over".

It then asked journalists at leading media organisations such as France's "Le Monde" to sift through the information. According to the French daily, 130 French people are on the Offshore Leaks blacklist.

France's new budget minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, on Tuesday asked media organisations involved in the probe to hand over any evidence they have to the judiciary.

"I ask the press that says it has elements and files to be willing to give them to the judiciary so that it can do its job," Cazeneuve said in parliament.

Cazeneuve also made clear that no amnesty would be granted "to those who have opened an account abroad and who could be tempted to come back if they were guaranteed clemency and leniency from the state".

Hollande and his ministers have been under fire from critics, who have accused his government of either trying to cover up the scandal or of mismanagement for having believed Cahuzac's initial denials.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-09

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