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Foreign minister denies Swiss account ‘rumour’

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday denied a "rumour" in a newspaper claiming that he may have a Swiss account, as France's government struggles to deal with a scandal over undeclared foreign bank holdings.

Foreign minister denies Swiss account 'rumour'
File photo of France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Photo: Cyclotron/Wikimedia Commons

"I absolutely deny the rumour, published in the Monday April 8th edition of Libération, claiming I have a bank account in Switzerland," Fabius wrote in a statement.

There is no "substance or foundation" to the report, he added.

Fabius also announced that he would pursue legal action to "stop the diffusion of this false and slanderous information".

The headline in Libération read: "A possible Fabius affair petrifies the Elysée", referring to the French president's office.

In the long article there are no facts showing that France's top diplomat has an undeclared foreign bank account, it simply stresses that the Mediapart news website "is exploring this line" of investigation.

Mediapart journalist Fabrice Arfi told Libération that the only news Mediapart had "is what is published on our website".

It was Mediapart that broke the story about former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac having an undeclared bank account in Switzerland.

President Francois Hollande's government has been shaken by the scandal which erupted on Tuesday after Cahuzac – once in charge of tackling tax evasion – admitted to investigators that he had a foreign account containing some €600,000.

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.

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