French tax minister accused of operating secret Isle of Man bank account

Former French Budget and Tax Enforcement Minister Jerome Cahuzac is accused of operating a secret bank account in the Isle of Man, as well as the Swiss account to which he has already confessed.

Cahuzac’s account with Swiss bank UBS was exposed by the French news website Mediapart in December 2012. He sued the magazine for defamation but was subsequently forced to confess its accuracy and resign. Prosecutors found that the undeclared account contained EUR600,000 when it was secretly moved to Singapore in 2009.

The French authorities are now conducting a formal criminal investigation of Swiss private bank Reyl & Cie, which is alleged to have helped Cahuzac. Charges have been brought against the company and two of its directors.

The new allegation, which emerged during the judicial investigation of Cahuzac, comes from his wife Patricia Menard, who is divorcing him. She has alleged that the account was opened between 1997 and 2004, in order to channel EUR2.5 million of investment into the London property market. The investigating magistrates have set up an enquiry in London to try and trace these investments.

The complexity of the evidential trail means that Cahuzac’s trial is not expected to take place until next year at the earliest.

• The Cahuzac scandal also inspired a new package of stringent anti-avoidance measures that came into force last June, along with new rules forcing government ministers to disclose their financial interests.

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