GENEVA, April 3 France's former budget minister,
forced to resign after revelations he held a secret Swiss bank
account, has allowed Swiss authorities to pass account details
to French judges investigating him for fraud, Geneva's public
prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Jerome Cahuzac quit his post in charge of French state
finances two weeks ago on the orders of President Francois
Hollande. On Tuesday he admitted to holding 600,000 euros in a
secret foreign account and said on his blog he was "caught in a
spiral of lies".
The scandal is a grave blow to the 10-month-old Socialist
government as it struggles to fulfil election promises to right
France's economy and stem rising unemployment.
French prosecutors began investigating Cahuzac for fraud
after accusations by investigative news website Mediapart. If
charged and found guilty in court, Cahuzac could face up to five
years in prison.
Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa acted on a French request to
obtain documents from UBS and Reyl & Cie, the two
banks involved, his office said in a statement.
It said Cahuzac had had a Swiss account since 1992, but did
not elaborate or specify whether he still held accounts at both
Reyl and UBS both declined to comment.
By giving his consent for the bank to disclose information,
French prosecutors will get sight of bank documents very soon,
speeding up a process that might otherwise have taken weeks or
months, the prosecutor's office said.
Cahuzac said on Tuesday he had confirmed to investigating
magistrates that an account existed although he had not
deposited any money there for some 12 years. He said he had
given instructions for the funds in it to be moved to his
account in Paris.