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Hollande denies covering up minister’s tax fraud

FRENCH PRESIDENT François Hollande has denied he was complicit in covering up €600,000 (£510,000) hidden by disgraced former Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac in a secret foreign bank account.

In a shock admission, Cahuzac disclosed that – despite previously making vehement denials both in parliament and on television – he had held the money abroad for almost 20 years, prompting Hollande to broadcast an address in an attempt to soften the impact of the scandal, which threatens to destabilise his government.

Hollande insisted Cahuzac did not benefit from any governmental protection and branded his former tax tsar’s actions “unforgivable”, adding the revelations are “an outrage to the republic”. He then announced a string of reforms, including banning convicted fraudsters from holding public office and requiring all government ministers and members of parliament to publish details of their personal finances, the Guardian reports.

Critics, including head of the right-wing party UMP Jean-Francois Copé, said the president either “knew nothing, and that’s extremely serious because it means he showed a certain amount of naivety” or “he knew and that means he lied to the French people”.

Questions remain over where the funds in the account came from, but Cahuzac’s lawyer insisted it was generated by “his income as a surgeon” and “activity as a consultant”.

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