French ex-minister faces grilling over tax fraud

26th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

Former French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, who resigned in disgrace over an undeclared foreign bank account, said Wednesday he had been made a "scapegoat," just hours before a grilling by a parliamentary probe committee.

Cahuzac, whose tasks included battling tax fraud, initially denied allegations by French investigative news website Mediapart that he had funds in a Swiss bank account.

But he did a U-turn when prosecutors opened an official probe into the undeclared overseas account said to contain around 600,000 euros ($770,000).

He resigned from the government on March 19 and has admitted to having the account for some two decades, in a scandal that dealt a major blow to Socialist President Francois Hollande's government.

Cahuzac, who faces the parliamentary panel from 4:30 pm (1430 GMT), told Europe 1 radio that he would "answer all questions as honestly as possible".

But he described himself as an "perfect scapegoat for all political corruption," adding: "The judged me in advance, even those who said they were my friends."

The questioning comes a day after the lower house of the French parliament approved a new law on transparency laws that opens the assets of parliamentarians to public scrutiny.

© 2013 AFP

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