Whistleblower Condamin-Gerbier Admits to Lying About Tax Evasion List

Ex-Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac. Photo: César for Wikimedia Commons

Ex-Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac. Photo: César for Wikimedia Commons

In June, ex-banker Pierre Condamin-Gerbier, a key figure in the ongoing Cahuzac affair, shocked France when he announced before a Senate hearing that he had a list of 15 prominent French politicians—including, he claimed, a cabinet minister—with money secretly stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

The list’s biggest secret? It never existed.

Condamin-Gerbier’s Swiss court-appointed lawyer, Edmond de Braun, revealed to the Swiss news daily L’Agefi that the embattled financier had made up the list, explaining that his client had told the lie to “silence the threats that were being leveled against him at the time.”

Condamin-Gerbier “recognizes now that it was a very awkward way to apply pressure,” de Braun added. “It is the worst thing he could have done.”

Once an employee of the Swiss bank Reyl & Cie, Condamin-Gerbier emerged this April as a key witness in the political scandal surrounding the financial activities of former Junior Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac. Condamin-Gerbier’s claim to have a list of prominent tax evaders propelled him briefly to star status in France this summer.

The scandal began last December, when news site Mediapart reported that Cahuzac had undisclosed personal funds hidden in Swiss and Singaporean bank accounts. Cahuzac at first vehemently denied the reports, but after being dismissed by President François Hollande last March, he admitted to keeping secret bank accounts. He has since been indicted on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.

Condamin-Gerbier—a French citizen—was arrested upon his return to Switzerland after testifying before a French Senate panel on the Cahuzac affair. He was charged with breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws, after his former employer, Reyl, filed a criminal complaint against him, alleging theft, forgery, and breach of confidentiality.

French authorities took Condamin-Gerbier’s claims before the Senate seriously enough to order a raid on Reyl’s Paris offices. The raid showed that several French tax evaders did indeed have accounts with Reyl. None of them, however, were politicians.

Publicly, Condamin-Gerbier has remained indignant that his statements, which were made before a closed session of the French Senate, have gotten him in trouble with the Swiss justice system.

“His French interviewers assured him that he risked nothing by testifying before a parliamentary commission of inquiry,” de Braun said. “My client now feels violated by the media and some authorities. He had been assured that his testimony before the Senate would be for internal use only, but it was publicly revealed.”

In another blow to his credibility, Condamin-Gerbier’s prior claim that he was only one of many to testify before the French Senate was disproven last week. In reality, he was the sole witness called to the stand.

For Condamin-Gerbier, this development is a precipitous fall from grace. Not long ago, sections of the French media, and certain members of parliament, had lionized him. Some compared him to Edward Snowden, the American intelligence contractor who fled to Russia after leaking data on the US government’s domestic spying activities.

Even if Condamin-Gerbier beats the charges against him in Switzerland, his lies before the Senate could land him in legal trouble if he were to ever return to France.

While France technically has no laws against perjury, it is still a crime to lie under oath in a governmental proceeding. If he were ever prosecuted for his testimony, Condamin-Gerbier could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to €75,000 ($100,042).

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  1. […] In June, ex-banker Pierre Condamin-Gerbier, a key figure in the ongoing Cahuzac affair, shocked France when he announced before a Senate hearing that he had a list of 15 prominent French politicians—including, he claimed, a cabinet minister—with money secretly stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. The list’s biggest secret? […]

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