France on Thursday slapped a fine of one million euros for tax evasion and money laundering on a married couple who are mayor and deputy mayor of Levallois-Perret, one of the richest suburbs of Paris.
Patrick and Isabelle Balkany, together with their son and two other persons, had been on trial in Paris for concealing millions of euros from French tax authorities for several years.
Between 2007 and 2013, the pair of elected officials are thought to have concealed up to €13 million in different offshore bank accounts, front companies and foreign villas in the French Antilles and in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The assets and procedures used to conceal the money “demonstrate the criminal will” of the Balkanys, State Attorney Xavier Normand-Bodard said.
“I started politics accompanied by my wife — we were rich. Now, we are poor”, Balkany, a well-known figure in French politics, said at the start of the highly publicised trial.
Balkany has been mayor the wealthy Paris commune for thirty years and has been ruling uninterrupted since 2001.
The Balkany pair have previously said they inherited their fortune in the 1980s from wealthy relatives in Switzerland, but the state attorney said that the couple was not able to produce evidence to justify that claim.
The attorney asked for the sum of one million euros to be collectively paid by five of the six accused, who have been charged with various counts of tax evasion.
The other three accused are the couple’s son, Alexandre, their right-hand man, Jean-Pierre Aubry, and retired attorney Arnaud Claude.