Two business leaders were sentenced in Paris to nine months suspended prison sentence and a fine of 80,000 euros for laundering tax fraud, AFP learned on Wednesday.
This is the first conviction in France obtained within the framework of the “Dubai papers”, revelations on a vast system of tax evasion.
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During a hearing Tuesday, the national financial prosecutor's office, which represented the prosecution, indicated that
"each year, the group led"
by these two entrepreneurs and specializing in the trade of hygiene products tax exemption
"3% of its figure business ”via“ false invoices ”issued“ for the benefit ”
of front companies
“ of the Hélin group ”
, based in the United Arab Emirates.
"In total, 1.5 million euros"
was tax exempt via this scheme, continued the PNF prosecutor.
A good part of the proceeds of this tax exemption was recovered by the two leaders via accounts abroad, after a commission taken by Hélin.
The two leaders thus acknowledged having each recovered around 400,000 euros over ten years.
The fraudsters had surrendered themselves
"appearance on prior admission of guilt"
, the two leaders admitted their guilt and accepted the negotiated sentence, nine months in prison, a fine of 80,000 euros each and the exemption from registration in the criminal record.
The sentence was approved by the court.
Their lawyer, Me Aurélie Chazottes, admitted in court that they had been
"clumsy and stupid"
to use this fraudulent system, while emphasizing the
"tax pressure suffered"
. The two managers of the company, according to the PNF prosecutor, made in February 2019
“a voluntary approach to (this prosecutor's office) with a letter acknowledging all the facts of tax optimization and the provision of the complete trace of flux".
At the same time, they regularized their situation with the tax administration with slates of around 600,000 euros each.
Following the revelations on the “Dubai papers”, a leak of 200,000 files, memos, emails, letters and faxes, the PNF opened on February 22, 2019 a preliminary investigation for aggravated money laundering of tax fraud.
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revealed in September 2018 the “offshore money laundering system in the United Arab Emirates” organized via the Hélin group with
“200 clients recruited by co-optation: Russian oligarchs, athletes, wealthy people, aristocrats and French business leaders ”
. The weekly highlighted the role of Hélin's founder, Belgian Prince Henri de Croÿ, in targeting potential customers.