Two business leaders were sentenced in Paris to nine months suspended prison sentence and a fine of 80,000 euros for laundering tax fraud, the first conviction in France obtained in the context of the “Dubai Papers”, revelations about a vast system of tax evasion by “Obs” in 2018, AFP learned on Wednesday, September 8.
Tax fraud: the sophisticated arrangements of the Helin network for entrepreneurs
During a hearing on Tuesday, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, which represented the prosecution, said that “Each year, the group led” by these two entrepreneurs and specializing in the trade of hygiene products tax exempted “3% of its turnover” via “False invoices” issued ” benefit “ 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.
Nine months suspended sentence
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 approximately 400,000 euros over ten years.
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During their “Appearance on prior admission of guilt”, the two leaders admitted their guilt and accepted the negotiated sentence, nine months suspended prison sentence, 80,000 euros fine 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 “Obs” revelations
The two executives of the company have, according to the PNF prosecutor, made in February 2019 “A voluntary approach with (this public prosecutor’s office) with a letter acknowledging all the facts of tax optimization and the provision of the complete trace of the flows”.
At the same time, they regularized their situation with the tax authorities with slates of around 600,000 euros each.
“Dubai Papers”: the shock confession of a fraudster at $ 25 million
Following the revelations on “Dubai Papers”, a leak of 200,000 files, memos, emails, letters and faxes, the PNF opened a preliminary investigation on February 22, 2019 for aggravated money laundering of tax fraud.
In France, “L’Obs” revealed in September 2018 the “Offshore money laundering system in the United Arab Emirates” organized by the Hélin group with “200 clients recruited by co-optation: Russian oligarchs, athletes, wealthy people, aristocrats and French business leaders”.
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“L’Obs” underlined the role of Hélin’s founder, Belgian Prince Henri de Croÿ, in targeting potential customers.