French Prosecutor: Russian billionaire Kerimov smuggled suitcases full of cash to buy villas in France

Prosecutor of Nice Jean-Michel Pretre made several statements on Monday, December 4 about a criminal case brought against Russian statesman Suleyman Kerimov who was accused of avoiding tax payments from a purchase of villas at the French Riviera coastside, the Nice-Matin newspaper reports.

The prosecutor, seeking to place the Russian senator under arrest, claimed Kerimov had smuggled “suitcases of cash,” each worth up to EUR 20 million, into the country through the Alpes-Maritimes department of France.

20minutes.fr news expanded on that statement with another quote from the Nice Prosecutor who also said that the total amount of cash brought by Kerimov into France ranged from 500 million to 750 million Euros.

According to the office of the prosecutor, all the cash was smuggled illegally to be laundered in the country through the purchase of villas in fake names. In addition, the declared cost of the villas appeared to be considerably lower than their actual price.

For example, the prosecutor’s office claimed that one of the villas was declared to have been bought for EUR 37 million, while in fact, the villa’s former owners put it up for sale at a price of EUR 150 million.
Thus, the office of the prosecutor estimated the tax fraud was worth dozens of millions of Euro in hidden cash plus up to EUR 5 million in concealed commissions.

Kerimov was detained at Nice Airport on November 20 and charged with tax fraud through the purchase of villas at the French Riviera. Earlier, the France 4 television channel reported the senator had been charged with dodging taxes worth EUR 400 million by way of understating the actual cost of the property he had bought. The senator’s representatives denied claims that he owns any property in France.

The court did not arrest Kerimov, releasing him on bail for EUR 5 million and his written statement about his obligation to not leave the country. The next court hearing was scheduled on December 5 to consider an appeal of the prosecutor’s office against the decision to release the statesman on bail. The prosecution will seek to place the senator under arrest.

  Suleyman Kerimov, France, Russia

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