French budget minister resigns

Jerome Cahuzac, France's socialist budget minister, has resigned

Story highlights

  • Jérôme Cahuzac, France's socialist budget minister, has resigned
  • Prosecuters have launched a tax fraud investigation into his offshore bank accounts
  • He will be replaced by Bernard Cazeneuve, the Europe minister

Jérôme Cahuzac, France's socialist budget minister, has resigned after prosecutors launched a tax fraud probe into allegations that he had an undeclared Swiss bank account.

Prosecutors began the formal investigation after police decided that a voice on a tape recording heard acknowledging as much was probably his. Mr Cahuzac, who said in a statement that he was quitting for the good of the government, insisted he was innocent of the "slanderous" allegations first published last year by Mediapart, an investigative website.

Mr Cahuzac's departure is a blow to President François Hollande who is under intense pressure from his eurozone partners to do more to rein in public spending by €60bn over the next five years.

Widely acknowledged even by his political opponents as a master of the complex budget portfolio, Mr Cahuzac charted the government's tax-heavy 2013 budget and plans for the following four years through parliament. His duties included the government's crackdown on tax evasion.

He will be replaced by Bernard Cazeneuve, the Europe minister, who will immediately have to wrestle with his fellow ministers over where the axe will fall in an unprecedented effort to cut France's big public spending bill. That task is central to meeting commitments to hitting EU deficit targets and bringing down the public debt, which has risen above 90 per cent of gross domestic product.

The public prosecutor said on Tuesday that a judicial investigation would now be opened into the case following a preliminary investigation begun in January. It said this would allow investigators to pursue their inquiries, including internationally, "in Switzerland but also in Singapore".

A key element in the allegations against Mr Cahuzac is a tape recording dating from 2000 in which a voice is heard referring to holding an account at UBS.

    The prosecutor said the tape had been analysed by police technicians who had concluded that "our analysis reinforces the hypothesis that Jérôme Cahuzac was the unknown speaker".

    Mediapart alleged that Mr Cahuzac held an account at UBS in Geneva until 2010, saying that he then shifted the account to Singapore.

    Mr Cahuzac, who has always insisted he has never had an account in Switzerland "or anywhere else abroad", has to date been firmly backed by Mr Hollande and his fellow ministers.

        CNN Business

      • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

        Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
      • A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

        The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
      • People enter a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 18, 2009. Las Vegas is the most populus city in the US state of Nevada and internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, fine dining and entertainment. Las Vegas which bills itself as the �Entertainment Capital of the World� is famous for the number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

        Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
      • spc marketplace middle east ata atmar a_00010015.jpg

        Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
      • Vantablack designed by Surrey NanoSystems absorbs 99.96% of all light. It however will not be the solution to the creating the world's ultimate slimming black dress! A dress made out of this material would render the curves and contours of the human body invisible and would leave the wearer looking like 'two dimensional cardboard cut-out.'

        A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
      • Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
      • A picture taken on March 15, 2014 shows children playing at the sprawling desert Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan near the border with Syria which provides shelter to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. Syrian refugees in the seven-square-kilometre (2.8-square-mile) Zaatari camp in Jordan fear that President Bashar al-Assad's likely re-election this year will leave their dream of a return home as distant as ever. The brutal war in Syria between the regime and its foes shows no sign of abating and has killed at least 146,000 people since it erupted in mid-March 2011. And 2.5 million Syrians have fled abroad and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced. Jordan is home to more than 500,000 of the refugees.

        Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
      • SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II wears 3 D glasses to watch a display and pilot a JCB digger, during a visit to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research centre, on November 18, 2010 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by John Giles - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
      • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

        Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
      • Valves of gas pipe-line are seen in the gas station not far from Kiev on March 4, 2014. The European Union will help Ukraine pay the $2.0 billion it owes to Russian gas giant Gazprom, a top official said Tuesday, as part of an aid package reportedly worth more than one billion euros. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREY SINITSIN (Photo credit should read ANDREY SINITSIN/AFP/Getty Images)

        The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.