“The quantity of Russian belongings frozen in France quantities to 1.2 billion euros”, Guillaume Valette-Valla (Tracfin)

LA TRIBUNE – What are the important thing classes from Tracfin’s newest exercise report, which has simply been unveiled?

WILLIAM VALETTE VALLA – In 2021, service exercise remained at a excessive stage. This exercise is illustrated by the gathering of information, specifically suspicious transaction reviews from professionals who’re topic to due diligence obligations within the battle towards cash laundering and terrorist financing. The quantity of data acquired by the service has elevated by virtually 50% between 2020 and 2021. The variety of notes produced by Tracfin for its companions elevated by virtually 10% in 2021.

The panorama of Tracfin’s companions is broad and displays the scope of the division’s missions. Our notes are addressed to the judicial authority, but in addition to the administrations charged with combating fraud, to international monetary intelligence companies and to our companions within the intelligence group. Our three precedence missions are the battle towards financial and monetary crime, the battle towards fraud in public funds, intelligence that contributes to the nationwide safety technique and the protection of the nation’s basic pursuits.

Tracfin has been referred to as in for different assignments lately. How has your workforce developed?

Tracfin has 200 staff, the variety of brokers has elevated by 65% ​​since 2017, the quantity of data acquired has doubled in the identical interval. We’ve got skilled very sturdy progress lately. Sure occasions such because the Covid disaster and fraud in financial help schemes or the warfare between Russia and Ukraine have contributed to the elevated demand for our companies.

In your final report, you level out the a number of frauds within the private coaching account (CPF). How are they characterised?

These fraud patterns have developed over time. The CPF frauds had been dedicated by petty fraudsters in 2020 and early 2021. They had been pretty easy frauds again then. Some corporations pretended to be coaching organizations when it was a rip-off. We additionally noticed loads of identification theft. Since mid-2021, it’s now not the identical sorts of fraud or the identical sorts of fraudsters.

At the moment, the information dealt with by our companies reveal a a lot better complexity due to shell corporations which can be created and disappear very shortly after receiving public funds for coaching. The division’s cooperation with our international colleagues is important to observe worldwide monetary flows and is a assure of the effectiveness of the mechanism to fight such fraud.

For the reason that begin of the pandemic, many instruments have been launched to help the financial system (partial unemployment, solidarity funds, state-guaranteed loans). What’s the extent of fraud on all these units?

Tracfin can’t know the complete extent of the fraud. We solely see a part of the fraud. The estimate of the whole quantity of fraud corresponds to a ‘darkish determine’. This can be a quantity that can not be calculated precisely. It’s primarily an analysis.

Opposite to what one would possibly suppose firstly of the pandemic, emergency help fraud has been restricted. The Courtroom’s numerous work has proven that this fraud has been curbed. We have additionally seen extra conventional fraud on energy-saving certificates. This fraud depends on extra structured networks coming to those units to illegally steal taxpayers’ cash. It is extremely troublesome to precisely quantify fraud. Then again, it may be mentioned that the simpler a tool is accessible, the simpler the fraudster will match into this gadget.

What strategies did you employ to determine them?

With regard to fraud associated to emergency measures, we now have knowledgeable Tracfin’s reporters, comparable to banking establishments, or professionals from the non-financial sector of irregular actions associated, for instance, to the creation and closure of fictitious corporations.

A corporation has been arrange throughout the State and governments with the DGFiP, the ASP (Companies and Cost Company) and the Caisse des dépôts. This collaboration has enabled a fast trade of data between governments to dam help funds to prison organizations. On the CPF, numerous information have been despatched to court docket or are being processed.

Have you ever found fraud within the context of the restoration plan?

Sure, for instance, we now have detected fraud within the context of state-guaranteed loans. These actions are solely certified as fraud from the final reimbursement phrases eligible by the businesses. Nonetheless, the deadlines is not going to be eligible till June 2024. For a breach to qualify as fraud, the corporate that took benefit of the PGEs could not repay it. Different standards should even be taken under consideration to qualify these deficiencies as fraud.

Fraud with partial unemployment: jail time for 2 crooks who embezzled a number of hundred thousand euros

In 2021, the Pandora Papers once more uncovered the fraudulent practices of executives to evade taxes. Regardless of the proliferation of worldwide investigations and the sophistication of investigation strategies, tax evasion continues to be very a lot alive. How do you clarify this paradox?

Tracfin will not be essentially the administration greatest positioned to cope with this phenomenon, in contrast to the DGFiP. Right now the phenomenon continues. There’ll all the time be an individual, a malicious group that desires to defraud the regulation. Nonetheless, the state of affairs has modified drastically over the previous decade. The instruments of the tax administration have clearly developed. This makes it simpler to resolve fraud instances.

Internationally, the themes revolve round tax optimization and fewer tax evasion. The tax charges of sure international corporations within the new financial system usually pose a problem to public opinion. That is extra usually tax optimization than fraud. Legally, there may be loads of confusion between tax evasion and tax optimization. Due to the investigative instruments of Tracfin and its community of counterparts overseas, it’s potential to acquire necessary data and cross it on to the courts. Tax evasion stays a subject of curiosity for Tracfin, however from the perspective of our companies we can’t say that it’s an explosive phenomenon.

Tax fraud: 7.8 billion euros recovered by the tax authorities in 2020

After the outbreak of the warfare in Ukraine, Bercy introduced on 1 March the creation of a job pressure bringing collectively Tracfin, the Basic Directorate of Public Finance (DGFiP) and the customs authorities. What conclusions do you draw from these first months of motion? What’s the quantity of frozen Russian belongings?

The quantity of frozen belongings quantities to roughly 1.2 billion euros, excluding these of the Russian central financial institution. These are monetary and non-financial belongings. These freezes are primarily based on a European regulation establishing an inventory of individuals adopted by Brussels. This mission mobilized Bercy’s companies so much in the course of the first quarter of 2022.

The precedence was to have the ability to present information to our political authorities defending proposals in Brussels primarily based on lists of belongings in France.

What does your job encompass at this time?

Right now it’s our job to test that there is no such thing as a danger of evasion. When the belongings are frozen, we attempt to test that individuals are not attempting to avoid the measures via household relays, relations or tax optimization mechanisms.

Since Could, Tracfin has returned to a extra regular exercise. Primarily based on the information collected, we are attempting to see if we won’t convey information to court docket within the context of information on laundering unlawful belongings held in France, laundering ill-gotten beneficial properties primarily based on corruption. We’re much less searching for administrative freezes, however contribute to feeding the justice system. It should have the ability to legally seize and confiscate items which can be unlawfully detained. The individuals talked about on this listing drawn up by the European Union aren’t disadvantaged of their property.

In French regulation, they will solely be accomplished by the choice of a decide. That is to characterize prison fraud. For instance, we attempt to see if the property has been the topic of a criminal offense or offense punishable in France, particularly whether it is tax evasion or if the property of a Russian oligarch has been the topic of concealment or worldwide site visitors.

Interview by Grégoire Normand

In Bercy, the troublesome hunt for Russian billionaires