French labor minister embroiled in new tax scandal

16:47, August 05, 2010      

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French Labor Minister Eric Woerth, who is mired in a tax scandal involving the L'Oreal heiress, has been exposed by media reports to have intervened to help a famous sculptor's heir cut tens of millions of euros of taxes on the legacy.

Liberation Daily reported on Wednesday that Woerth personally intervened in the case of inheritance left by famous sculptor Cesar Baldaccini when he was the budget minister, resulting in a tax cut totaling 27 million euros (about 35.6 million U.S.dollars).

According to the report, the executor of Baldaccini's will Alain-Dominique Perrin, who is also a major donor to Woerth's conservative UMP party, exerted pressure on Woerth, which played a crucial role in the case.

However, Perrin told Europe 1 radio the allegations were false, saying the letter, which was published by the Liberation Daily to prove Woerth's guilt, was a forgery.

The labor ministry also denied the report and criticized the newspaper's report as "seriously erroneous", saying Woerth had strictly followed the professional standards and not intervened in the tax affairs during his tenure as the budget minister.

Baldaccini established a company and listed a number of artworks in its inventory, some of which had not yet been started. But, after his death in 1998, the uncreated works was mistakenly supposed to be sold, resulting in fattened tax charge, said the ministry.

Woerth was questioned by police last week about separate allegations that he accepted an illegal contribution of 150,000 euros (about 478,333dollars) for Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 campaign from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Woerth has also been accused of using his influence when he was the budget minister to help Bettencourt evade the payment of tax and in return, get his wife a well-paying job at a company of Bettencourt.

Woerth has denied any wrongdoing and has Sarkozy's backing.

He was appointed as the budget minister following the election of Sarkozy in 2007, but was renamed as labor minister this Spring to carry out the president's unpopular pension reform.

Source: Xinhua


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