Massive searches at La Défense, in five major French banks suspected of huge tax evasion on dividends from foreign shareholders on French companies for years… Tuesday is quite simply “the biggest operation in history of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office [PNF] ” which took place. And it all started from Orthevielle, Saint-Sever, Préchacq-les-Bains and Aire-sur-l’Adour… Landes municipalities in the constituency of deputy Boris Vallaud. It was the complaint filed in 2018 by the socialist that prompted this long investigation by the PNF. He was not alone: 250 people co-signed the complaint with him. They called themselves “the collective of citizens in an organized gang”. Forget Marseille, it’s “Hontanx baby”.
At that time, the young socialist deputy worked with the economist Gabriel Zucman on the taxation of multinationals. “We see that tens of billions of euros are missing from the State budget, 20% of the income from corporate tax was missing! The question was how to tax better, so that it is not the SMEs that pay what the multinationals do not pay. “It is at the same time as The world and an international media collective take out the case of the CumEx Files : a massive fraud on the taxation of dividends. A mechanism actually quite simple, but in a gray area between tax evasion, illegal, and tax optimization, legal.
“There is a huge appetite for justice”
“I tell myself that this case is a textbook case, relates the one who is today president of the socialist group in the National Assembly. I considered that when a tax optimization has as vocation only the scam of the taxman, that concerns aggravated tax evasion. Boris Vallaud consults two lawyer friends to see if there is material for a complaint, and they write it up. “We often see major journalistic investigations into financial scandals where the prosecutor’s office takes action, but there was a desire to file a complaint to give weight to the case,” recalls Me Caroline Boyer.
Boris Vallaud talks about his initiative during his mandate report meetings in the 3rd Landes district, between Chalosse, Tursan and Pays Tarusate. “From the first meeting, I see that the thing takes, affirms the deputy. There is a huge appetite for justice: people are not against paying taxes, they want everyone to pay them. So I had questions about the chances of succeeding with such a complaint, how to join it, I was amazed! ” The socialist continued to rally 250 signatories “and it was not just a petition, we really signed 250 contracts with each of the plaintiffs”, specifies Caroline Boyer, the lawyer who wants to believe that these supports were not not just cosmetics for the PNF to embark on this big investigation: “The procedure is gaining in legitimacy. »
“Neither the beginning nor the end of the story”
Of course, in this type of mandate review meeting, you don’t come across exactly anyone, you have to be close to politics, in this case sometimes close to the PS. This is the case of Didier Kahn, one of the signatories of the complaint, quite a fan of his deputy, whom he first met “in a professional setting, when I was a trade unionist”, he nevertheless wishes to specify . Retired from public finance, he was not a specialist in fraud when he was still working “but I was amazed to see such fraud going on for years. I said to myself that it was necessary to press. We miss these billions, as we can clearly see today with the pension reform! »
Between 2018 and 2023, Caroline Boyer met the PNF several times, ensuring that the file was not on the back burner. The big search at the start of the week is therefore “neither the beginning nor the end of the story”, explains the lawyer. “They recovered a lot of documents. It will take several months for the prosecution to assess the responsibilities, the damage and the extent of the fraud. But it’s a little early to know if we’re going to a trial, for example. At the political level, Boris Vallaud would like to work to define a slightly clearer boundary between legal and illegal optimization practices. He would also like to review the tax agreements made between France and other countries: “Currently it is the Foreign Affairs Committee that looks at them, and it is not done seriously. I would like the Finance Committee to look at them. »