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France

French court throws the book at disgraced tax-dodging ex-minister Cahuzac

media Jérôme Cahuzac arrives in court for sentencing Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Disgraced former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac was jailed for three years for tax avoidance on Thursday. His ex-wife Patricia Menard was given a two-year sentence for her role in stashing millions of euros abroad, while their Swiss bank, Reyl, was fined 1,875,000 euros for money-laundering.

The court gave Cahuzac, 63, the maximum sentence demanded by prosecutors, as it did for Menard.

The fine for Geneva-based bank Reyl was also as high as it could be and the couple's banker, François Reyl, was given a year's suspended sentence and fined 375,000 euros.

Cahuzac's lawyer said he would appeal.

The case caused a huge scandal when the Mediapart website brought it to light in 2012, not least because part of Cahuzac's brief as budget minister was to chase up tax fraud.

Sued investigative website

He at first denied the accusation and sued Mediapart before confessing and resigning from the government in April 2013.

The pair, who ran a hair transplant clinic, have already paid back taxes and penalties totalling some 2.5 million euros.

They used a Royal Bank of Scotland account in the Isle of Man, an offshore financial centre in the Irish Sea, to channel cheques from British hair transplant clients.

Menard later opened an account in Switzerland.

'Hair by hair'

Some of the money went to buy apartments for their children in London and Paris and take holidays in Mauritius.

Cahuzac's defence lawyer Jean Veil noted his client had already made financial amends and said he had "no desire to see my taxes going towards maintaining Jerome Cahuzac" in jail.

But prosecutor Jean-Marc Toublanc said Cahuzac's family life "was rooted in fraud for 20 years".

Menard's lawyer Sebastien Schapira said the money was "that of fraud, but initially it was that of her work, earned day after day, hour after hour, hair by hair" and tried to portray her husband as the evil genius behind the tax-dodging scheme.

To read our coverage of the Cahuzac scandal click here

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