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The budget minister and the Swiss bank account: why only an independent judicial investigation will do

December 20, 2012 | By François Bonnet and Dan Israel

Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has adopted a fresh strategy as he tries to defend himself against Mediapart's investigation that shows he had an undisclosed Swiss bank account until 2010. Cahuzac is trying to get the bank to waive its banking secrecy rules to confirm he held no such account – something the bank has so far refused to do. But as François Bonnet and Dan Israel point out, behind this apparent delaying tactic there is a clear conflict of interest between Cahuzac the budget minister and Cahuzac the private bank customer. Which is why, they argue, only an independent judicial investigation can get to the heart of the affair.

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The French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac does not appear to like doing things the easy way. The minister, under fire for the Mediapart revelation that he held an undisclosed account at Swiss bank UBS until February 2010, is now preparing what seems to be a complex defence manoeuvre. On his own blog the minister, who continues to deny having had a Swiss back account, has explained that he has asked his lawyer to get from UBS “negative confirmation” about the account. In other words, a statement from the bank that he has never held an account at that establishment.