PARIS (AP) _ France's finance ministry is looking into an administrative flub that caused thousands of people to receive secret financial information about other taxpayers.

Finance Minister Laurent Fabius has called on his ministry to file a report by next week explaining how a suspected ``sorting error'' prompted officials to send confidential tax-related forms to the wrong recipients.

``This is a serious and important mistake, a blunder _ we can't beat around the bush on it,'' Fabius said Saturday during a visit to Lyon. ``It's normal for the government to say it's sorry in such a situation.

``It shows that we still have a lot of work to do to reform the administrative processes,'' Fabius said. He told Francois Cailleteau, who heads the tax bureau, to draw up the report. ``After that, we'll draw the consequences,'' Fabius said.

Officials said they believed the mistake, which was first discovered on Wednesday, had to do with the failure of a private printing house working under government contract to follow strict operational controls. The government has halted all mailings believed to be subject to the errors.

Fabius said a ``letter of personal regret'' will be sent to the taxpayers concerned.