|George Bush's brothe...sorry, Jérôme Cahuzac|
So are you sitting comfortably children? Good. Then we'll begin.
This instalment features a Socialist called Jérôme Cahuzac, and he is the latest victim of the
Mediapart alleged in a recent edition that Cahuzac had a dodgy-looking Swiss bank account at the UBS bank for many years before political circumstances made him decide to move his money to somewhere even harder to trace - a bank in Singapore. Cahuzac vehemently denied the story, and that's not surprising of course, particularly when one knows that he just happens to be the current Junior Budget Minister at the Economy Ministry and that he puts himself across as being the incarnation of budgetary rigour and fiscal incorruptability. Oh dear. Hollande, who has always wittered on about not accepting wideboy geezers in his government, was embarassed, although he didn't sack/hasn't yet sacked him.
All very straightforward so far.
The most crucial piece of evidence that Mediapart has obtained is a recording of a phone message allegedly left by Cahuzac on a friend's mobile phone during which he discusses the UBS account. The trouble is though - the story goes - that he had *ahem* 'inadvertently' phoned the wrong number and left the message on someone else's phone. Hmmm.. Cahuzac is heard to say among other things that;
"What pisses me off is that I still have an account open with UBS. And UBS isn't exactly the most hidden of banks."And who was the unintended recipient of the message? Well well well and looky here, it just happened to have been an old political opponent of his, the former right-wing politician (now retired from politics) Michel Gonelle. He must have been as happy as a pig in shit to hear the eminently compromising news. He decided to keep it under his hat for future use if necessary and we'll get back to him further down the page.....
Enter another protagonist in the form of Cahuzac's wife, Patricia, who is in the process of getting a divorce. Her lawyer however turns out to be the sister of political cheat and current usurpateur of the UMP presidency Jean-François Copé, and she, as (bad) luck would have it is also strongly suspected of opening a Swiss bank account back in 2005. The thot plickens.
Still keeping up? I hope so because it's not over yet by a long chalk.
So, back to Mediapart and the question of how they got the information and recording on Cahuzac. Take a bow Mister Rémy Garnier, a rather shady private investigator who was hired by Patricia Cahuzac to inquire into her husband's business and other dealings. And, by another dazzling coincidence, it just so happens that Garnier would be more than happy to see Jérôme Cahuzac chucked out of the government and into the nearest Job Shop. Because he has a grudge against him.
Garnier was a senior tax inspector back in the late Nineties when he was sent to investigate the tax affairs of a company called France Prune which, the reader will be surprised to learn, used to deal in, well, prunes. (Someone's got to do it I suppose.) Garnier recommended to his bosses that France Prune (try typing it. A pound to a penny says you won't be able to stop yourself sniggering) be wound up because of its poor finances. Trouble was though that the company was in the town of which Cahuzac was mayor so, fearing job cuts in his community, he used his political influence to get Garnier's appraisal of the company expunged. Garnier, it is said, was not a happy bunny when he found out that his superiors had overriden his conclusions.
Meanwhile, Michel Gonelle (do try and concentrate children, he's the guy upon whose phone Cahuzac erroneously left the compromising message about the UBS account) denied at first that he had ever received it, never mind given it to Mediapart, but he then changed his mind and said that he had given a taped copy of it to a famous former investigating magistrate in charge of counter-terrorism affairs. AND YES I AM BEING SERIOUS!
His name is Jean-Louis Brugière and he promptly denied ever receiving the recording, as one does. Then he, like Gonelle, changed his mind and admitted that he had received it but that he had "never listened to it" because he, as "an ethical man" found Gonelle's account of how the message landed on his phone to be suspect. This, of course, is pure poppycock (I like that expression - 'pure poppycock') and if the thinness of his excuse could be compared to the thickness of ice on a pond it would be so thin that were an ant to walk upon it it would fall through into the water to a forlorn and freezy death.
(Is anyone still reading this I wonder? Probably not. Oh well, ever onwards, ever onwards....)
But why, even if he had heard the tape, would Brugière wish to destroy the ministerial career of Jérôme Cahuzac by sending it to Mediapart? Easy-peasy according to Gonelle. It also just-happens-to-be-once-again that after leaving the magistrature Brugière entered politics as a Sarkozyst and attempted to get himself elected to parliament in the 2007 legislative elections. But it was not to be, alas and alack, because he was defeated by a Socialist candidate, who was...wait for it... no other than...guessed yet?....yup, the man 'imself, Jérôme Cahuzac! You couldn't make it up could you, and nor have I.
That's how things stand as of now, with Cazuhac's wife, Gonelle, Garnier, Brugière and others all having excellent and credible motives for wanting to see Cazuhac dipped in deep doo doo, but what about Cahuzac himself? What has he been up to in his attempts to deny the existence of the account?
The first thing he did of course - and I say "of course" because French politicians are inordinately fond of doing this - was to instruct his lawyer to begin proceedings against Mediapart for libel. But the press and its dog began noisily asking why Cahuzac didn't do what many others in his situation have done in the past in similar circumstances, which was to use a perfectly straightforward standard banking procedure for Swiss banks which allows people to ask the UBS to formally confirm in writing that they have never had an account with them. Cor blimey, said Cahuzac, "that will nail Mediapart's mouths shut!"
But strangely, very strangely, strangely strangely even, enough though, the bank declined, citing 'procedural difficulties'. "Which procedural difficulties?" the press predictably retorted, refusing to give up its bone. But they have not yet received a clear answer to that question.....
So there we have it. A murky mucky Byzantine saga of intrigue, double-dealing and lies that, had it been written by a political fiction author, would have been laughed out of every publishing house in the world because of its totally implausible plotline.
But it isn't implausible, it's real. It's 'la vie politique 'à-la-française'. You gotta larf innit.......
Finally, may I wish all my billions of readers a very Merry Christmas Day, and I'll leave you with a short video I took a couple of days ago of some pretty Christmas lights under a beautiful dusk sky.