by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
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Former government minister in France

Jérôme Cahuzac

Offshore company held bank account for minister accused of tax fraud

Related to  France
Data from: Panama Papers
The lies told by Jérôme Cahuzac in 2013 triggered one of the most spectacular downfalls of a public official in the annals of French scandals. As a government minister waging a campaign against tax evasion, Cahuzac was forced to admit he lied to President François Hollande, former colleagues in Parliament and the French people when he repeatedly denied owning foreign bank accounts. He said he stashed over $750,000 in a Swiss bank account for 20 years, moving the money to Singapore in 2009. His ex-wife disclosed an account opened in Great Britain in 1997. Cahuzac, who made a fortune as a cosmetic surgeon, resigned his ministry post and awaits trial for tax fraud.

In the data

Jérôme Cahuzac was the owner of a Seychelles company, Cerman Group Limited, incorporated in 2009 and connected to a bank account. Two other offshore companies served as Cerman Group’s director and shareholder. Documents appear to show that Cahuzac's ownership of the account was disclosed to Mossack Fonseca at the time French authorities were investigating allegations of tax fraud by Cahuzac in 2013. When Seychelles authorities questioned Mossack Fonseca about the account, the company asked for more information about Cerman Group from the firm that had originally asked to create it. That information revealed Cahuzac's involvement. Mossack Fonseca told Seychelles authorities in May 3, 2013, that they were discontinuing their business relationship with Cerman Group because of its connection to the French politician, who was a high risk “Politically Exposed Person”. Cerman Group Limited was inactivated in January 2015.

Response

Cahuzac's lawyer told ICIJ partner Le Monde that his client is reserving his explanation for his trial, which is scheduled for September 2016. The former minister's supporters have maintained that he was not responsible for financial structures created by his financial advisers.
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