Get 40% Off
⚠ Earnings Alert! Which stocks are poised to surge?
See the stocks on our ProPicks radar. These strategies gained 19.7% year-to-date.
Unlock full list

Belgian lawyer guilty in 'Catch Me if You Can' Swiss money-laundering case

Published 12/09/2019, 04:30 PM
Updated 12/09/2019, 04:36 PM
© Reuters.  Belgian lawyer guilty in 'Catch Me if You Can' Swiss money-laundering case

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - A Swiss court convicted a Belgian lawyer on Monday of money-laundering and forgery for taking shares now worth more than 60 million Swiss francs ($60 million) from Belgium's richest family and stashing them in accounts and offshore companies.

The unidentified defendant, who denied the charges, was sentenced to 30 months, half of it suspended, minus time served in preventive detention, which means that she will not be jailed in Switzerland. The Geneva prosecutor had sought four years at her trial last week.

The three-judge tribunal also ordered confiscation of tens of millions found in accounts.

"It was almost a perfect crime. But when you put together a financial scheme, you have to remember what you have already done. You end up making big mistakes," plaintiff lawyer Vincent Jeanneret said in the pleadings.

Court papers showed hasty transfers to Singapore, Dubai and Monaco, Jeanneret said, describing a "Catch Me If You Can" scenario in an allusion to the Hollywood heist film.

The 57-year-old defendant, who is not being named in line with Swiss practice for defendants not in the public eye, was previously convicted in 2016 in Luxembourg of attempted fraud involving the 2005 testament of the Anheuser Busch InBev (BR:ABI) heiress Amicie de Spoelberch, widow of Luka Bailo. She was sentenced to 24 months, with 15 months suspended.

Prosecutor Niki Casanato said on Monday that the Swiss federal justice office had received a request from Luxembourg for her extradition to serve the remaining time.

Some 915,000 bearer shares in the world's largest brewer were removed from a Luxembourg safe deposit box in 2004 when Bailo died. His sons Patrice and Alexis brought the case against the defendant, leading to her re-arrest in 2017.

"We are satisfied with the ruling ... which demolishes the lies proffered for many years," Pierre de Preux, lead lawyer for the Bailo brothers, told Reuters.

Swiss banks became suspicious in 2008 when a whistleblower leaked details of thousands of clients of HSBC private bank, including the lawyer's account with $40 million.

"Three banks made declarations about possible money-laundering - Mirabaud, HSBC, and Rothschild. That set off the investigation," Dominique LeCoq, a Bailo lawyer, told the court. It took years to trace funds as the brothers were "addicts" who kept no records, although Patrice was now "clean", he said.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.