From link: http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_08_06/L-Oreal-sells-Seychelles-island-after-years-of-tax-evasion/
France's richest woman is embroiled in a tax evasion scandal involving a luxurious island in the Seychelles.The case of the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettancourt has gripped the French media. Liza Belozeerova reports.
The smallest of the islands in the Seychelles has become the center of a large tax evasion scandal. Liliane Bettencourt the heiress to the L’Oreal Empire sold the D’Arros Island to a Swiss-based Sea Protection Charity, the Save Our Seas Foundation, for 42 pound millions more than she paid for it. Her family required the island in 1998 but never paid the tax on the purchase of 8 million dollars. The Seychelles Honorary Consul to London Bernard Silver explains the Seychelles government’s position:
"D’Arros is consisting really of two islands. It is now well protected as a conservation area. And the Swiss Foundation, Save our Seas Foundation, is well-known because they have sort of record of involvement in global environmental positions. They’re non-profit organization. And whilst until now anybody could visit those islands. It does now bring it under the government’s Conservation Reserve Act that will be protected as a major reserve. And the government of Seychelles is thrilled at the deal".
Two years ago it emerged that Bettencourt never declared the island to the French tax authorities. She has also admitted to evading tax on money held in foreign bank accounts. She came on a scrutiny when it was revealed that she allegedly gave two envelopes both containing 6,000 pounds in cash to finance former French President Nicola Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007. In return she allegedly received tax breaks once Sarkozy came to power. But how has France received this story? Philip Turle is Radio France International editor-in-chief of the English Language service. He says that a deal is part of an attempt by the Bettencourt family to restore its reputation with the public and the French authorities.
"There’s been mixed reaction. One, I think, is - many people think that Liliane Bettencourt is already the richest woman in France and didn’t really need all this extra money in Euros. She sold the island for 60 million, she bought it only for 18 million. That makes a great profit in the last 14 years since she and her husband required this island. But there’re those who say that it’s not done by the Bettencourt family to show that they are willing to bring bring money back to France and to pay taxes on that money within France which is one of the big criticisms that they have come under in recent years".
Nicola Sarkozy is now under investigation for illegal financing of his 2007 presidential campaign. Last month his Paris house was raided while he was away on the family holiday in Canada. Since then he hasn’t made any public appearances. Will the news of Bettencourt profit force him out of silence? Phillip Turtle again:
"I don’t think so. I think he’s waiting now to be caught by judges to testify in court. His presidential immunity has been listed annulled at the 16th of June. He’s become a Frenchman like any other Frenchman and can be summoned to court like anybody else. I think he definitely will be summoned to court to give his version of the facts. But at the moment there’s no proof that he actually received this money. It’s just a witness account that had been denied by those in close contact with Liliane Bettencourt at the time. It’s up to the judges and up to investigators to prove that".
Mr. Sarkozy is also facing allegations that during his presidency he profited from illegal arms sells to Pakistan and to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.