A French court on Friday sentenced convicted fraudster Arnaud Mimran to 13 years in prison for orchestrating the kidnapping of a Swiss financier with the aim of extorting him.
Prosecutors had sought a 16-year-sentence against Mimran, 49, over the 2015 kidnapping.
The financier, Yomi Rodrig, testified he was forced to buy several million euros worth of stock in a empty shell company controlled by Mimran during the six days he was held in captivity, according to Bloomberg.
At the time of the kidnapping, French prosecutors said Mimram owed money to friends but his bank accounts had been seized as part of a major fraud scheme he was convicted over in 2016 or to cover debts worth 5 million euros ($5.9 million) at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas.
The court sentenced three other defendants in the kidnapping to prison terms of 4-8 years, while acquitting two others. A seventh man, a British financier who fled to Dubai, was tried in absentia and sentenced to 1-year in prison.
Mimran is currently serving an 8-year prison term for his 2016 conviction for carbon VAT fraud, a crime known as the “swindle of the century” in France, an in April was indicted in two separate murder cases.
French prosecutors allege Mimran murdered his accomplice, French-Israeli fraudster Samy Souied, in 2010, as well as his former father-in-law, billionaire Claude Dray, a year later.
Prior to his 2016 fraud conviction, Mimran often touted his friendship with former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he claimed to have supported materially to the tune of €1 million over the years. More specifically, Mimran reportedly told French investigators that he had contributed $200,000 to Netanyahu’s 2009 prime ministerial campaign, an amount that exceeds the NIS 11,480 (€2,922) campaign contribution limit set by Israeli law.
Mimran was one of about 50 French citizens, working in teams of three or so, who committed carbon-VAT fraud in 2008-2009. The fraudsters took advantage of differing tax rules in different EU countries to buy and sell carbon credits, or permission to emit carbon dioxide, on exchanges in Europe. The fraudsters would buy the credits in a country with no value-added tax, and quickly sell them in France or other countries that did charge VAT. Generally, merchants have 90 days to remit the VAT they collect to the French government. The fraudsters took advantage of the time window to divert the money offshore and transfer it through a series of shell companies until it effectively vanished.
The French government has estimated it lost €1.6 billion in unpaid VAT taxes this way and the total loss to all European countries is estimated at €5-10 billion.