France to try 14 execs, JP Morgan Chase over tax fraud




Fourteen former and current executives of the Wendel investment company will face trial for tax fraud while US bank JP Morgan Chase is to be pursued for complicity, legal sources said.
The former head of Wendel, Jean-Bernard Lafonta, and Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, ex-chief of the main French employer’s association, are among those to be tried, legal sources said.
An investigation was opened in 2012 following complaints by tax authorities over a scheme called Solfur that saw Wendel executives buy shares at a knockdown price.
Financial prosecutors estimated in 2015 that the executives made a net gain of 315 million euros ($336 million) euros in 2007 for an investment of just under one million euros without paying any taxes, according to documents seen by AFP.
JP Morgan Chase and a tax lawyer are to face trial for complicity in tax fraud over suspicions they participated in the creation of the scheme.
The investigation focused on email exchanges between Wendel’s managers, the law firm and the bank which demonstrated “recurring concern” about escaping paying taxes, according to prosecution documents.
Jean-Bernard Lafonta, who has been called the “Mozart of finance”, was convicted last December for spreading false information and insider trading, and fined 1.5 million euros, but has since appealed.
Lafonta’s lawyer declined to comment when contacted by AFP Friday.

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