March 22, 2011, the granddaughter of the famous dressmaker Nina Ricci indulges in some phone confidences. It is far from suspecting that the police placed on listening, “I think I did the right thing to do and I never heard from Bercy, so all is well … Everyone was collared but not me [...] They all had to go, pay big bucks … “and Arlette Ricci to let his interlocutor, concerned about the impact”. Yes, necessarily, inevitably, because all that is illegal when same. “
The lady should be less talkative. Because since 2009, the IRS is hunting on the trail of the 3,000 French fraudsters HSBC, after obtaining a list stolen by a computer of that bank in Geneva, Herve Falciani. Brandishing this listing, Eric Woerth, then budget minister, invited offenders to denounce his cell regulation, promising the wrath to the rebels.
Arlette Ricci thought to be passed under the radar. A wrong: his name is on the list. Two months after the intercepts, the national repression of financial crime Brigade (BNRDF) arrives in full force in the early morning at his home in the Cauchy street in Paris, a few meters from the home of Francois Hollande. The heiress 73 years is placed in custody forty-eight hours and then indicted for tax evasion and tax fraud laundering. Since then, she officially exiled in the Swiss Alps. But it will appear on February 16, in Paris before the new 32 th Criminal Chamber of the Palace of Justice dedicated to large tax evasion cases.
Piccoli Bocuse, Dugarry …
This is just one case among thousands of other World scandal undeclared accounts at HSBC Private Bank revealed by the World SwissLeaks February 9, bringing the French courts to put the bank examination . But the Ricci case is one of the most spectacular in France. Less because of the elite scent given off the down Nina Ricci as a result of the considerable fortune – more than 18 million euros – it is accused of having concealed. And because the heir is one of the few riders alleged to have resisted stubbornly.
Most of them preferred to capitulate. In search of discretion, the most famous of the 3,000 were quick to rectify … without being able to prevent their names out over the revelations and World Mediapart. The comedian Gad Elmaleh, actors Michel Piccoli and Jeanne Moreau, director Cédric Klapisch, visual artist Christian Boltanski, the former footballer Christophe Dugarry, the former president of CRIF Gérard Prasquier, former representative France to the UN Luc de Nanteuil, the former prefect Jean-Charles Marchiani, a hairdressing salon boss Jacques Dessange, chef Paul Bocuse, the Ouaki family, founder of Tati, and Mentzelopoulos family, owners of Chateau Margaux, were, among others, cited
Other less known. – liberal financial professions, lawyers, doctors, shopkeepers and small employers means – have also resigned to settle their slate. In total, the IRS has collected, with the repentant listing 300 million in fees and penalties at the end of 2034 controls … What may be even lean on the total funds hidden by the French in the bank estimated by Le Monde to 5.7 billion.
Rest third of resistant secretive. For more severe cases (active fraud, sophisticated fixtures …), the tax authorities filed a criminal complaint, to take advantage of investigating means of BNRDF: 103 registered complaints were filed in sixty business. Today, half are looped, trials come, mainly in Paris but also Lyon, Nice … Most of the defendants are not big fish. Such as Delort brothers at the head of a pinball SMEs (1.4 million euros hidden), first sentenced in late 2013, eight and ten months suspended sentence. Or Freddy Levy, butcher and wine exporter (2 million), against whom the prosecutor requested eighteen months suspended sentence (verdict March 12). Yet Levy had finally, after more than two years in custody, resigned to deal with the tax authorities.
But once started, the judicial machine will not stop. And the sums add up: the penalties are accompanied fines (an average of 10,000 to 50,000 euros), plus those of the civil party tax … more recovery to settle! Justice is even more severe recalcitrant true face. Thus, Alain Zaquin, former head of the French subsidiary of the Swiss investment fund EIM millionaire Arpad Busson, is the only imposed the prison (six months and eighteen months suspended) because ” he refused to cooperate end to end and is even suspected of being a business provider of HSBC, “says one judicial source.
A” tough “
Arlette Ricci is also considered a “tough”, says an investigator. She fiercely denies having held HSBC bank accounts in Geneva. Yet, according to the files Falciani, she was the recipient via the Panamanian company Parita, nine accounts, which had a balance of € 16.7 million in 2007. Another company in the British Virgin Islands, Myr Associates, associated his daughter was, she credited in 2005 with 1.5 million.
Arlette Ricci owes his fortune to his father, Robert, died in 1988, who led the Paris fashion house. It was originally launched perfumes, including the legendary fragrance L’Air du temps. At his death, the Nina Ricci group weighs more than 150 million euros in turnover. Psychoanalyst, writer and director in his spare time, Arlette has no operational role within the family empire and quickly sold his shares. It’s his sister Marie-Françoise and her husband Gilles Fuchs who will carry the torch before selling the Spanish luxury group Puig.
Officially Arlette Ricci has invested his inheritance in real estate and insurance -Life subscribed Louvre Management International, a subsidiary of HSBC Luxembourg, declared to the French tax authorities. However, in the fall of 2009, shortly after the first revelations about HSBC list, she decided to pack up and move on the Swiss border. Leaving her Paris apartment boulevard Saint-Germain, she settled in a chalet in Klosters, charming ski resort of Grisons, near Davos resort of Prince Charles. Ricci went there regularly when Arlette child.
French Heritage protected
In the process, she decides to put his French estate from the tax authorities. Assisted by a lawyer also continued in the case, it creates two real estate companies, each in his name and that of his children, one for the house in the rue Cauchy, his “pied-à-terre” in Paris, and the other for a villa with swimming pool near Bonifacio in Corsica. SCI borrow from BNP Paribas in Geneva and redeem both goods Arlette Ricci, 4 million, which it places in the same bank. This is fine in a loan, repayment of principal only involved the last installment ten years later. Meanwhile, the French SCI, weighed down by debt, so are emptied of their value. According to the defense, this assembly, completely legal and classic, aims to reduce the wealth tax in France and had to prepare the transfer of the property to his three children.
Investigators are not of that opinion. For them, this device is akin to “a sale transaction to oneself.” So the IRS files a new complaint for “fraudulent insolvency organization.” What worsen his case, in the eyes of Claire Thépaut judge. “Ms. Ricci has hired these arrangements so she could do some of the tax evaders listed in the said files Falciani rightly feared tax proceedings and wanted to escape and tax foreclosures which it would be,” she wrote in its order for reference that was able to consult Challenges. The Swiss subsidiary of BNP Paribas has, in fact, a mortgage on two houses, which complicates foreclosures. Best of all, based on the “boundary” of the laptop Ricci, Judge Arlette Ricci accused of not having spent enough days in Switzerland in 2010 to be considered tax resident. A dummy debit charge contested by the defense, which brandishes proof of address and ensures that the laptop had been lent to her daughte r.
A prosecution witness
In support his argument, Thépaut cites the testimony of Charles Bertrand Leary, an old friend of Ricci, who was at the table in custody: he admitted to being the heir relationship with HSBC officer in Geneva then have voluntarily managed accounts; He also worked on life insurance in Luxembourg, which have served to fuel the Swiss accounts. This industrial 79, Great Mills owner of Strasbourg, French miller third group was also a director of HSBC France
Unlike Ricci is a repentant. He had presented Woerth the cell and confessed himself be beneficial, through three offshore companies, fifteen Swiss bank accounts with balances ranged between 25 and 39 million depending on the year. According to him, HSBC offered this type of installation to its customers to “ensure anonymity” and “prevent employees indiscretion or French investigators.” Leary has an agreement with the tax authorities and paid 8 million. But that did not prevent him from being prosecuted for tax evasion complicity. He will appear alongside Arlette Ricci and her daughter, defended by lawyer Jean-Marc Fedida, who did not wish to speak. In addition to the criminal sanction, the Ricci also risk a massive turnaround: Since 2013, the IRS provides for an increased taxation of up to 60% of the funds held in undeclared foreign accounts. The cause of Ricci will be difficult to defend. The zeitgeist has changed.
David Bensoussan and Gaëlle Macke