The granddaughter of Nina Ricci was fined $1.1 million and sentenced to a year behind bars. Arlette Ricci, 73, became the first famous victim of the Swissleaks scandal, which came to light after an ex-employee of HSBC handed over the details of thousands of suspected tax evaders to authorities, according to the Associated Press.
Tax fraud trials expected to continue
Her trial is expected to be the first of many as European authorities catch up with those suspected of dodging taxes by holding their money in secret accounts. As well as her conviction for tax fraud, Ricci was found guilty of money laundering.
The French judge sentenced her to three years in prison, but two were suspended. In addition to prison time and a fine, authorities also confiscated two properties worth approximately $4 million.
Jean-Marc Fedida, a lawyer for Ricci, stated that there is a possibility that he will appeal the decision, or ask the judge to allow his client to serve her sentence under more lenient conditions. Possibilities include partial liberty or the wearing of an electronic tag.
Ricci heiress and her daughter both sentenced
A separate part of the same case saw the court order the repayment of millions in back taxes dating from 2007-2009. Ricci, a lawyer and two companies are to be told how much they have to repay at a later date. The case also led to the conviction of Margot Vignat, Ricci’s 51-year-old daughter, who was given an 8-month suspended sentence for tax fraud.
Former HSBC employee Herve Falciani handed over the details of thousands of alleged tax evaders in 2008. French authorities passed the list on to other governments and began investigating the matter, although authorities have been criticized for the length of time it has taken to look into the allegations of massive tax fraud by wealthy individuals.
Now the French authorities have launched a formal criminal investigation into London-based HSBC over alleged tax fraud carried out by its Swiss private bank. For its part HSBC has stated that the allegations are “without legal basis.”