PARIS (AP) — A French court on Wednesday postponed the trial of a former French budget minister accused of tax fraud and money laundering until September, to give higher courts time to decide a legal issue raised by his lawyers.
The much-awaited trial of Jerome Cahuzac, a one-time champion in the fight against tax evasion, started Monday but was adjourned before any debate could be held on the fraud case itself.
On the opening day, his lawyers argued a defendant shouldn't be under both a criminal and a tax procedure at the same time.
Cahuzac has already paid back-taxes and heavy penalties to the French tax authorities, and now faces up to seven years in prison and a 1 million-euro fine if he is convicted of tax fraud by the criminal court.
The court ruled the legal argument developed by the defense "stirs up a serious doubt" about the legality of the double sanction process that must be decided by higher courts.
The 63-year-old ex-Socialist is accused of financing a lavish lifestyle by fraudulently concealing 687,000 euros ($765,000) of income from French tax authorities in 2009-2012 and laundering money in 2003-2013 through foreign bank accounts based in tax havens including Switzerland, Panama, the Seychelles and Singapore.