14 Apr 2015

Fashion house heiress jailed

8:56 am on 14 April 2015

The heiress to the Nina Ricci perfume and fashion fortune has been jailed for tax fraud after hiding millions in an offshore HSBC account.

Arlette Ricci during her trial for tax evasion.

Arlette Ricci during her trial for tax evasion Photo: AFP

Arlette Ricci's conviction is the most high profile to date from cases linked to the leaking of thousands of wealthy individuals' account details held by the Swiss operation of HSBC bank.

The 73-year-old was sentenced by a Paris court to one year in prison and ordered to pay a €1 million fine.

HSBC's Swiss private banking arm is being investigated after a leak revealed large scale tax fraud.

Ms Ricci, who can appeal, was given a two-year suspended sentence on top of her one-year custodial sentence. She was ordered by the court to pay millions in back taxes for the period of 2007-2009, with the exact amount to be set at a later date.

Her daughter, Margot Vignat, 51, was also convicted and given an eight-month suspended sentence.

Ms Ricci was accused of hiding millions of euros from the French authorities to evade tax using an offshore HSBC account. She has consistently denied the accusations against her.

A list of thousands of HSBC's clients was passed to the French government in 2009 by whistleblower Herve Falciani, a former employee of the bank's private operation in Switzerland. But the bank's tax-evasion practices only came to light when the documents were reported on by international media outlets in this year.

Widespread media coverage led to criminal investigations in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina but not in the UK, where HSBC is based.

- BBC

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