Wendel trial: Ernest-Antoine Seillière’s lawyer calls for his release

Denouncing requisitions of “tremendous violence”, the lawyer for the former president of Medef Ernest-Antoine Seillière demanded the release Thursday evening, at the trial for tax evasion of the former leaders and executives of the investment company Wendel.

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) demanded four years’ imprisonment on Tuesday evening, including two years, as well as a fine of 37,500 euros and a three-year professional ban against the man who was also the boss of European bosses. .

“A form of professional and social death has been proposed for all of the defendants”, launched at the start of his argument Me Eric Dezeuze.

“Here is someone who has represented France, French companies, in the world, in Europe, who has always felt that serving the company was serving France. (…) Faced with all this, only one word: prison”, lambasted the lawyer.

Ernest-Antoine Seillière, 84, has been on trial since January 17 in Paris alongside thirteen other people, suspected of having participated in May 2007 in a fraudulent scheme aimed at evading taxation on a total of 315 million euros capital gains from a profit-sharing program within Wendel.

Successive to the bar, the defense lawyers all pleaded for release, repeating that the defendants had never had the “intention” nor the “consciousness” to commit tax evasion.

They criticized the prosecution’s “hindsight reasoning”, arguing that the disputed operation, dubbed Solfur, complied with “the rule of law” at the time: the executives were then “convinced” to respect the law, also relying on the imprimatur of a prestigious tax law firm.

The public prosecutor requested the heaviest sentence against the then chairman of Wendel’s management board, Jean-Bernard Lafonta, 60: five years’ imprisonment, including three years.

Main beneficiary with 116 million euros, Mr. Lafonta is suspected of having “piloted” and “imposed” the assembly on his executives, which he strongly contested at the helm.

His lawyer could plead Thursday evening.

Penalties ranging from one year’s suspended prison sentence to two years’ imprisonment were requested for eleven former and current executives of Wendel and a former tax lawyer, each with the same fine of 37,500 euros and professional bans ranging from one to three years.

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