Former French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac was charged Tuesday in a tax fraud probe as he admitted to having a secret overseas cash stash.
Cahuzac is a member of France’s Socialist Party and a vocal opponent of foreign tax havens.
Posting to his blog on Tuesday, the disgraced Budget Minister finally admitted to lying about a once-secret foreign bank account after rumors and an investigation into his personal finances persisted. He claimed that he told investigating judges he had a foreign bank account for 20 years.
His lawyer, Jean Veil, says he decided to come clean because he has been “devastated by guilt.”
“In a statement on his website, Cahuzac — the first minister in President Francois Hollande’s administration to face a criminal probe — said he had met with investigating magistrates Tuesday and admitted to having a foreign account,” AFP reports.
“He said it contained about 600,000 euros ($770,000) and had not been touched in about a dozen years. He said he had ordered the funds transferred to his French account,” the report adds.
A spokeswoman for Paris prosecutors said authorities filed preliminary charges Tuesday against the disgraced budget minster for the alleged money laundering. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and a €375,000 ($481,500) fine.
French President Francois Hollande, himself a socialist, condemned the former budget minister’s “unforgivable moral error.”
Cahuzac was charged in May 2012 with the task of ensuring that his fellow countrymen paid their “fair share.” He abruptly resigned two weeks ago, explaining that he didn’t want to “hinder” the investigation into his personal finances.
“I was caught in a spiral of lies and lost my way. I am devastated by guilt,” he said.
“It was an unspeakable mistake to think that I could avoid confronting a past that I wanted to consider behind me. I will now face this reality with all transparency.”
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The AP contributed to this story. Featured image Reuters.