Thursday, 01 October, 2020

Le Drian case: Fraudsters who wore mask of French minister jailed

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Gilbert Chikli (r) and Anthony Lasarevitsch denied the rates

Two men who impersonated a French minister to trick rich people out of a lot more than €55m (£48m) have been jailed by a court docket in Paris.

Franco-Israelis Gilbert Chikli and Anthony Lasarevitsch conned their victims by impersonating Jean-Yves Le Drian, frequently putting on a silicone mask.

They denied fraud and usurping Mr Le Drian’s identification but were found responsible.

Chikli was jailed for 11 many years and fined €2m whilst Lasarevitsch acquired a 7-12 months sentence and a fantastic of €1m.

As the sentence was handed down, Chikli shouted: “It really is a scandal. You should really be ashamed.”

The court was informed that the Aga Khan – non secular chief of Ismaili Muslims – and Turkish business tycoon Inan Kirac each fell target to the fraud, which took position in 2015 and 2016.

Prosecutors claimed that in conferences organized on Skype, a single of the fraudsters would put on a custom-made Le Drian mask and sit in a facsimile of Mr Le Drian’s ministerial place of work, comprehensive with flags and a portrait of then-President François Hollande.

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The true Jean-Yves Le Drian is on the remaining, though the bogus Le Drian sits behind a desk in a makeshift business office

They would ask politicians and distinguished business leaders to section with money for purported ransom payments to hostage-takers or for anti-terror functions.

Mr Le Drian is now French foreign minister but at the time he was defence minister and not nicely acknowledged internationally – a simple fact that seemingly created the con extra productive.

Prosecutors claimed the gang approached additional than 150 popular figures and organisations which include King Philippe of Belgium, Gabonese President Ali Bongo, the CEO of the Lafarge cement enterprise, church leaders and charities. In most situations the targets did not tumble for the hoax.

The Aga Khan made five transfers with a overall €20m to Poland and China. Three of people payments were being frozen but €7.7m was not recovered.

Mr Kirac allegedly wired far more than €47m for what he was told was ransom income for two journalists being held hostage in Syria. Château Margaux vineyards dropped €3m.

The two suspects were extradited to France from Ukraine in 2017.

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Gilbert Chikli in court docket in Kyiv in 2017

Prosecutors say proof was found on the cell telephones of Chikli, 54, and Lasarevitsch, 35, soon after their arrest in Ukraine, suggesting that they prepared to impersonate Prince Albert II of Monaco subsequent. There were cellular mobile phone shots of a silicone mask of Prince Albert.

At trial, five other defendants faced lesser expenses. 1 was released and the other people acquired sentences ranging up to five several years in jail.

In a French Tv set interview in 2010, Chikli explained former scams he experienced been associated in, saying: “You have both received the present or you haven’t, it is really like popular actors.

“When it arrives to me, you can say that I have a gift.”

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