Hollande pledges new law after tax scandal

French president promises control of politicians' wealth after former budget minister admits to tax fraud.

    Cahuzac resigned after a probe into the Swiss account he allegedly used to hide assets from authorities [AFP]
    Cahuzac resigned after a probe into the Swiss account he allegedly used to hide assets from authorities [AFP]

    French President Francois Hollande has vowed that a new law on the "publication and control" of ministers' wealth
    would be presented within weeks, after his ex-budget minister was charged in a tax evasion probe.

    Hollande said on Wednesday that he would ban anyone guilty of fraud from holding public office in France.

    Former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac had a day earlier admitted to having had a hidden account overseas for nearly two decades.

    Hollande said Cahuzac had benefited from no protection over the account.

    "I affirm here that Jerome Cahuzac did not benefit from any form of protection, other than the presumption of innocence. And he left the government at my request immediately after the opening of an investigation," the president said.

    "He tricked the highest authorities in the country: the head of state, the government, parliament, and through it
    all the French people. It's a grave and unforgivable error," Hollande said in a pre-recorded statement distributed to broadcasters.

    The president outlined three measures planned in the wake of the revelations - a re-enforcement of the independence of the judiciary, the introduction of a register of assets for parliamentarians and a ban of elected officials found guilty of tax offences holding public office.

    Cahuzac's admission he held a $770,000 bank account was a blow to Hollande's 10-month-old government, whose popularity is facing all-time lows in opinion polls.

    Cahuzac resigned on March 19 after a probe into the Swiss bank account he allegedly used to hide assets from the tax authorities.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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