French Jewish businessman Arnaud Mimran on Thursday was convicted of fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison.
A French court ruled that Mimran — who has in the past given donations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and his associate Marco Mouly were guilty of stealing €283 million. It imposed a €1 million fine for immediate reimbursement, and ultimately required the two, along with a Polish broker, to pay back the state the €283 million.
The court issued a warrant for Mouly, who was not present during the proceedings.
Polish broker Klapucki Jaroslaw was sentenced to seven years in prison and a €1 million fine with immediate incarceration.
Nine other defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to eight years in jail. Six of them were tried in absentia.
Mimran was one of the main defendants in the trial in Paris over a scam amounting to €283 million involving the trade of carbon emissions permits and the taxes on them.
Mimran, who was convicted of tax offenses in France in the late 1990s, was convicted of using front companies to collect sales tax returns from France on carbon emissions permits that he bought from countries that did not collect the tax on them, like the Netherlands.
Known as the carbon emissions scam, it is believed to have caused billions in damages in 2009 by fraudulently exploiting the differences in how industrialized nations encouraged reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
The fraud was called the biggest scam in the EU’s history, and also managed to embroil Netanyahu after Mimran testified to giving Netanyahu €1 million in 2009, when he was running for prime minister, to fund his election campaign.
Netanyahu denied that account, asserting that the contribution was made in 2001, amounted to the much smaller sum of $40,000 and funded public diplomacy efforts rather than a personal campaign.
Israeli law limits individual campaign contributions to NIS 11,480 (€2,670).
On Tuesday, .Netanyahu dismissed as “nonsense” a Channel 2 report from a day earlier that police were investigating him over campaign contributions from abroad.
A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said in June that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had ordered an examination of Mimran’s testimony “immediately after he became aware of it.”
The statute of limitations for such crimes in Israel is 10 years, effectively ruling out criminal prosecution.
In a statement on June 5, the Prime Minister’s Office accused Mimran of committing further fraud by making a false claim about Netanyahu.
“Mr. Mimran, who is on trial for fraud in the range of several hundreds of millions of dollars, is trying to divert attention by means of another fraud,” the statement read.
Last month, Mimran revised his account of his donations to Netanyahu in the last decade, saying that the prime minister had the numbers right and he had been wrong.
“Everything that Bibi says is true,” Mimran told Channel 2, a day after he rejected Netanyahu’s claim that he had been given a far lower sum by the French businessman. “It’s possible that I got the numbers wrong because it’s been more than 10 years.”
“It was a long time ago, so it’s possible I made a mistake with the sum,” Mimran told Channel 2. “In any event, there was nothing illegal on Bibi’s part. I transferred a sum to him and invited him to vacations in Monaco and a ski resort in the French Alps.”
In 2000, Mimran was investigated on suspicion of insider trading in the United States and agreed, together with his partners, to pay a fine of $1.2 million, Haaretz reported.