PARIS (AP) - The Paris prosecutors office says it is opening a preliminary investigation into allegations that France's budget minister hid money from French tax authorities in offshore accounts.
A statement Tuesday from the prosecutors' office said it also intends to open a probe for defamation based on a complaint over the allegations filed by Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac.
The online newspaper Mediapart alleged in December that Cahuzac had a secret Swiss bank account until 2010, when the funds were transferred to Singapore.
Cahuzac has led the Socialist government's crackdown on tax evasion _ part of a larger effort to bring in funds to cut France's deficit.
A preliminary investigation means the case can ultimately be dropped, or charges filed.
A surgeon by training, Cahuzac served as a lawmaker before his ministerial appointment.
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