PARIS Dec 5 French Prime Minister Jean-Marc
Ayrault stood behind his budget minister on Wednesday after he
rejected media allegations that he had held a secret Swiss bank
Jerome Cahuzac, who is leading a government crackdown on tax
evasion, has vigorously denied a report by the Mediapart news
website which said he had held an account at Swiss bank UBS
until the beginning of 2010.
"I have full confidence in my minister Jerome Cahuzac,"
Ayrault said on France 2.
Ayrault made his remarks after Mediapart followed up on its
first report on Tuesday by publishing a recording of a telephone
call from 2000 in which a male voice it said belonged to Cahuzac
mentions an account he held at UBS.
Earlier Cahuzac denied during the government's weekly
questions session in parliament ever holding a Swiss account.
"I don't have, I never have had accounts abroad," Cahuzac
told lawmakers, adding that he had filed a legal complaint
against the website.
Mediapart, staffed by veteran French newspaper and news
agency journalists, gained prominence in 2010 when it broke news
of a political funding scandal around ex-President Nicolas
Sarkozy's UMP party and L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
Sarkozy was questioned last month by magistrates involved in
a legal investigation into the allegations. According to a
French daily which obtained excerpts of Sarkozy's closed-door
testimony, he denied receiving "a penny" in campaign funds.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Mark John and Jon