Verdict expected in French budget minister's tax scandal

A Paris court is preparing to return a verdict in one of the biggest political scandals of French President Francois Hollande's government.

Hollande's former budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac, is charged with tax fraud and money laundering for allegedly hiding his wealth in tax havens around the world.

Prosecutors have asked the court to convict and sentence him on Thursday to three years in prison.

Cahuzac and his ex-wife have acknowledged owning illegal foreign bank accounts for two decades. They have already paid 2.3 million euros ($2.5 million) in back taxes to French authorities.

As budget minister, Cahuzac led efforts in France to crack down on tax evasion.

The scandal fueled public mistrust of traditional politicians and demands for more transparency, issues that are surfacing in the upcoming French presidential election.