A French court sentenced Arnaud Mimran, a tycoon who previously donated money to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to eight years in prison on fraud charges.
Mimran has been on trial as a key suspect in an alleged scam involving more than 280 million euros in the trade and taxation of carbon emissions permits.
Mimran was one of 12 suspects in a massive fraud scheme that involved buying carbon credits in EU countries where no value added tax was charged and charging 19.6 percent VAT when reselling them in France. The tax money was never remitted to the government.
Six of the suspects are French Jews who fled to Israel prior to the trial and are reported to have received Israeli citizenship.
France has requested their extradition, though Israel rarely deports citizens.
The Paris weekly news magazine L’Obs named them as Alexander Bernshtein, Gabriel Cohen, Michael Haik, Jeremy Grinholz, Eddie Abittan and Frederic Sebag.
Prosecutors believe at least 50 million of the 283 million euros Arnaud has been convicted of stealing from French taxpayers were paid to him in Israel.
Details of Mimran’s ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to light during the ongoing trial, including testimony by Mimran that he contributed about one million euros to one of Netanyahu’s election campaigns.
Spokesmen for Netanyahu have described Mimran’s testimony as “lies and falsehoods.”
According to material in the possession of TOT and the French investigative journal Mediapart, Mimran is believed to have received the 50 million euros in cash from French-Israeli criminal Sami Sweid, during his frequent visits to Israel.
Part of the sum was invested in Israeli banks and the rest smuggled back to France aboard Mimran’s private jet, according to the material.
Sweid, who was one of the suspects in a money laundering case at a Bank Hapoalim branch on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv, was murdered before a scheduled nighttime meeting with Mimran in Paris.