The French cabinet has gone into damage limitation mode, reeling from the confessions of the former budget minister who lied about secret offshore bank holdings he had held for 20 years.
President François Hollande went on TV after Jerome Cahuzac’s bombshell admission.
“He (Cahuzac) has tricked the highest authorities in the land – the head of state, the government, parliament, and therefore every French citizen,” Hollande said. “It is unpardonable, it is an outrage committed against the republic and the allegations themselves are intolerable,” he said.
Cahuzac has given the Swiss authorities permission to pass his bank account details to investigators in Paris.
The 60 year old had been leading a campaign against tax dodgers.
News of his own attempts to cheat the taxman began to emerge last December on the Mediapart website.
Not only did Cahuzac rail against Mediapart, but journalists there claim they were targetted by other members of the media too.
Editor Edwy Plenel said: “Quite simply, it’s a serious blow for the Republic. It shows that France is a low-grade democracy. A living democracy is one where you can not only make revelations, but where once something is revealed, the opposition swings into action and makes sure that justice prevails and sanctions are imposed.”
Our Paris correspondent Giovanni Magi reports: “Old-fashioned investigative journalism has caused a real political earthquake, a tremor that will have unpredictable consequences not only on the government in power, but probably the entire French political class.”