Details emerge of massive French tax evasion scam using Latvian bank

French publication Challenges on Friday published details of a massive tax evasion scam by the company France Offshore that promised to reduce tax bills for French nationals using a network of offshore companies and Latvia's Rietumu Bank.

According to Challenges, the massive fraud was masterminded by France Offshore's Nadav Bensoussan who appeared in online videos championing his jet-set lifestyle and links with Rietumu while promising to save French taxpayers thousands of euros by making them "fiscal residents" of Latvia which he described as a "new Eldorado".

"After a four-year trial, he has lost his shine," Challenges writes, noting that prosecutors are demanding a stiff prison sentence for a fraud alleged to have hidden some €700 million of taxes that belonged in France in one of the most serious financial cases ever to have appeared in French courts.

The scam operated by setting up complex networks of companies in various offshore jurisdictions but all with accounts held at Rietumu Bank in Latvia, prosecutors say.

In total, some 700 accounts were set up at Rietumu to cater for France Offshore clients, the court was told, with strong suspicions of involvement in money laundering from the proceeds of crime - though none was detected by Latvia's financial regulator - in addition to tax avoidance on a massive scale.

Rietumu bank has consistently said that it had no special relationship with France Offshore or Bensoussan personally and has broken no laws or regulations.

The case continues.

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