France’s powerful political couple, The Balkanys, are found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to jail by Paris court
FRENCH political couple Patrick and Isabelle Balkany have been found guilty of money-laundering and sentenced them both to jail by the Paris Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
The Balkanys, veteran right-wing politicians, who for years commanded the chic Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, were sentenced to prison terms of five and four years respectively sealing the power couple’s fall from grace.
But they had not been put behind bars immediately and are waiting for an appeal to France’s highest court. Patrick Balkany had been released to house arrest in February because of problems with his health.
In March, the two already lost an appeal over tax fraud convictions after they were found guilty of using offshore accounts to conceal at least €13 million in assets from the tax authorities.
On Wednesday, the appeals court said the couple had implemented a system of “persistent fraud” and therefore they seized assets and demanded payment of €1 million in damages.
They were also banned from holding elected office for 10 years, putting the breaks on their long careers.
Patrick Balkany, 71, appeared in the Paris courtroom without his wife and made no comment after the ruling. His lawyer Romain Dieudonne said he had five days to push forward an appeal, while his wife’s lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur thought the ruling was “excessive.”
The jail terms previously handed down were heralded as evidence that the legal system no longer stays away from holding those deemed powerful to account.