Lijun D. was eventually caught by the patrol. Suspected of high-level fraud, this Chinese entrepreneur fell into the net of the European prosecutor. Since 2018, he would have "implemented a system of circumvention of European customs duties, for a damage estimated at 26 million euros," say our colleagues from Le Parisien, at the origin of these revelations confirmed by AFP. At 43 years old, Lijun D. is the head of Leon Cycle, a German multinational that leads the gondola in the global electric bike market. Arrested last Wednesday by customs officers of the Judicial Investigation Service of Finance (SEJF), Lijun D. was quickly placed in custody, before being indicted Friday and finally imprisoned in La Santé prison.
Still, putting the hook on the CEO of Leon Cycle was not easy. Because it must be said that the system of circumvention of customs duties put in place seems well oiled. The customs officers would have discovered the pot aux roses by chance. At the turn of a simple control, customs officers note irregularities on the goods imported by the giant of the cycle. After investigations, the judicial customs discovered that the electric bikes in question were manufactured in China, while they were stamped as coming from South Korea. As the import duties of goods into the European Union were not the same from one country to another, Leon Cycle benefited from a reduction in customs duties.
To this scam originally would be added a second. "The bicycles are also delivered as a kit, making it look like they are spare parts. A nuance that also makes it possible to pay a much lower value added tax (VAT)," notes Le Parisien. Once the customs barriers of the European Union are crossed, the kits would be assembled in the Czech Republic, Romania or Portugal, according to the daily Ile-de-France. Such final assemblies would then allow the bikes to be sold as products made in Europe.
To crown and lock this system, the fraudulent money produced would ultimately be laundered. "Leisger Holdings Limited, "the main holding" of Leon Cycle, is registered in the Cayman Islands, a notoriously known tax haven," points out Le Parisien.
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But these overwhelming suspicions are only "extrapolations", protests Me Flahaut-Prévot, the lawyer of Lijun D. The council is concerned that his client will become "the stake of a trade war between Europe and China", at a time when the European Union is trying to tighten the screws on its customs system. "If the customs file on the circumvention of anti-dumping duties is presented as unavoidable by the prosecution, most of the elements can be contested," he added in the columns of Le Parisien, adding that "on money laundering, there is nothing. The European Public Prosecutor's Office is extrapolating because the main holding company is in the Cayman Islands. Mr. D. is a businessman with a stable situation who has no place in detention." The suspect, already implicated in Germany for similar facts, defended himself by telling SEJF customs officers that "there is no infringement", "no set-up to try to circumvent customs duties".