https://www.france24.com/en/20190913-fr ... -tax-fraudFrench rightwing power broker jailed for tax fraud
A French court on Friday jailed a rightwing power broker who has dominated politics in a wealthy suburb of Paris for decades, after convicting him of hiding millions of euros' worth of assets from the tax authorities.
The sentence handed down by a Paris court against Patrick Balkany, longtime mayor of Levallois-Perret, was one of the stiffest yet for a French politician convicted of tax fraud.
His wife and longtime deputy Isabelle Balkany, who attempted suicide in May, was given a three-year jail term but not placed under arrest.
In dramatic courtroom scenes, police arrested Balkany, 71, to begin serving his term as the verdict was being read out and his wife looked on. The pair were also banned from holding office for 10 years.
The trial had captivated much of France, where it was seen as a test of the ability of the courts to hold well-connected and long-established power players to account.
The Balkanys, who are close friends of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, also face a second verdict in October on more serious charges of money-laundering and corruption.
Both have been convicted previously of conflicts of interest, and both were handed suspended prison sentences in 1996 for the personal use of municipal employees, including one who was employed as their private chauffeur.
Quotes from Mrs. Balkany:
- "We made mistakes like everyone when we were young politicians... but the punishment must be proportionate to the crime," she told the BFMTV news channel.
- "It's not my fault if I was raised in a 3,000 square-metre townhouse in the 16th (arrondissement of Paris) and went to school in a Rolls!" Isabelle told Le Journal du Dimanche weekly in 2015.