'There was no cover-up': French finance minister Moscovici on his role in the Cahuzac scandal

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French finance minister Pierre Moscovici is at the centre of allegations that the government was involved in a cover-up to support Jérôme Cahuzac after Mediapart revealed last December that the then-budget minister, leading a crackdown on tax fraud, held a secret bank account abroad. In this lengthy interview with Mediapart’s Laurent Mauduit and Martine Orange, Moscovici defends his role during the four months in which he stood by Cahuzac, despite the mounting evidence presented by Mediapart that his junior minister and one-time friend consistently lied about holding hidden funds abroad. Moscovici reveals that the former budget minister, who finally confessed earlier this month, after repeated denials, to holding the account, declined to provide a written statement requested by tax authorities last December as to whether he held or not a secret account. But surprisingly that did not cause alarm among his colleagues. “Faced with the firmness and the number of his denials,” Moscovici says, “I had the tendency and the wish to believe Jérôme Cahuzac.”  

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The scandal surrounding disgraced former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who earlier this month confessed to holding a secret bank account in Switzerland over a period of some 20 years, a fact first revealed by Mediapart last December, continues to shake President François Hollande’s socialist government. While all ministers have been ordered to publicly declare their personal wealth online, beginning Monday, ahead of planned legislation aimed at tackling the hidden conflicts of interest rife in French politics, allegations continue that the government was initially involved in a cover-up in favour of Cahuzac.