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Report: Disgraced French budget minister lied to Swiss bank

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Disgraced former French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac lied to a Swiss bank when it accepted his assertion that funds paid into his account had been declared to tax authorities, a newspaper report said Saturday.

The Zurich-based Tages Anzeiger said the politician presented a “bogus tax certificate” to the Julius Baer bank.

According to a report by French newspaper Le Monde, Philippe Peninque, a longtime friend of Cahuzac, paid the controversial untaxed 600,000 euros ($775,000) into an account at a Geneva branch office of Swiss bank UBS in 1992 in his own name.

A few months later Cahuzac changed the account into his name during a visit to Geneva, according to the report.

In 2000, Geneva-based Reyl & Co, now a private bank which at the time did not have a banking license and was therefore not bound by strict banking regulations such as providing the names of account holders, opened a so-called omnibus account at UBS that included Cahuzac’s funds.

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In this type of account several individual accounts are combined, allowing for easier management by the futures merchant.

After Switzerland pledged to cooperate with foreign authorities in cases of tax evasion in 2009, Cahuzac asked Reyl & Co to transfer the money to an omnibus account at a Julius Baer bank branch in Singapore.

But Tages Anzeiger said a wary Julius Baer asked Reyl & Co for a so-called A Form that would include the name of the account’s fund holder.

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Realizing that the holder was a politician the bank also demanded a document certifying that the funds had been declared to tax authorities.

According to Tages Anzeiger, Cahuzac “presented a bogus tax certificate” and claimed that the 600,000 euros were made through his work as a plastic surgeon.

Based on the assertion, Julius Baer authorised the transfer of the funds.

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Cahuzac — the minister responsible for cracking down on tax evasion until he resigned in mid-March — was charged Tuesday with “laundering the proceeds of tax fraud” after he admitted to having the foreign bank account, following weeks of denials.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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