Taxing time for François Hollande amid claims of hypocrisy
Campaign treasurer’s involvement in Cayman Islands firms adds to crisis
Thursday 04 April 2013
French President François Hollande’s promise of “irreproachable” government suffered a further serious blow today.
In the midst of an acute political crisis following the former budget minister’s confession that he cheated the taxman for two decades, it emerged that President Hollande’s campaign treasurer was the part-owner of two companies in the Cayman Islands.
Although Jacques Augier, a friend of Mr Hollande for 30 years, denied any wrong-doing, the revelation fuelled allegations of hypocritical double-standards in a Socialist administration which has pledged to crack down on tax loopholes.
The British-owned Cayman Islands have some of the laxest banking rules in the world and have become a tax haven of choice for multinational businesses and wealthy individuals. Mr Augier, 59, admitted that he owned up to 30 per cent of two companies in the islands but said they were unsuccessful publishing and travel ventures.
“I have no personal bank account open in the Caymans and no direct personal investment there,” he told Le Monde. “There is nothing illegal going on.” Under French law, Mr Augier would be exempt from paying tax on profits from the companies so long as he could prove that they had genuine business activities in the Caymans.
Meanwhile, Mr Hollande, on a state visit to Morocco, is under growing pressure from the right-wing opposition and parts of his own Socialist party to dismiss his government in an attempt to draw a line under the “affaire Cahuzac”.
The former budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, who initially spearheaded Mr Hollande’s crackdown on tax evasion, confessed on Tuesday that he had hidden large sums from the taxman in Swiss and Singaporean bank accounts for two decades. Mr Cahuzac, 60, a wealthy plastic surgeon-turned-politician, had previously denied the existence of such accounts in personal statements to the President and the National Assembly.
President Hollande and senior members of the government, especially the finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, have been accused by the opposition of knowing about the illegal accounts and protecting their colleague. All have dismissed these allegations.
Centre-right politicians, and some figures within the Socialist party, are demanding that Mr Hollande dismiss his Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and form a new administration. The Elysée Palace insists that he has no plans to do so.
According to two polls – taken just before the Cahuzac crisis exploded – Mr Hollande’s approval rating has sunk to 25-27 per cent.
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bromance continues: X-Men star gushes about 'pussy cat' BFF Patrick Stewart
David Cameron stung by jellyfish: PM hurt after ignoring advice of locals while on holiday
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Hollande's affair: Catherine Deneuve and Sophie Marceau in war of words over President's relationship with Julie Gayet
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband kit: Inside North Korea with the the Pyongyang marathon winner
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 KFC 'sorry' after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for 'heavy petting'
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...