January 13, 2017 / 5:27 PM / 3 years ago

French prosecutor appeals against tax fraud acquittal of Wildenstein art-dealer family

FILE PHOTO International art dealer Guy Wildenstein arrives for his trial at Paris court, France, January 4, 2016. French art dealer Guy Wildenstein and seven others were acquitted of tax fraud charges January 12, 2017 thanks to a legal loophole the Paris court acknowledged might not be understood by the general public. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The French financial prosecutor’s office said on Friday that it had launched an appeal against an earlier ruling this week to acquit wealthy art dealer Guy Wildenstein and seven others of tax fraud charges.

In a statement, the financial prosecutor’s office said there were valid grounds for an appeal given that “the case had shown a clear intention to evade paying tax”, even if the final ruling had been to acquit the defendants.

Wildenstein and the other defendants were acquitted this week due to a legal loophole which the Paris court acknowledged might not be understood by the general public.

Wildenstein and two family members, as well as their financiers and lawyers, were accused of deliberately understating to tax authorities the real value of family riches inherited about a decade ago and placed in trusts abroad.

The case did not produce a guilty verdict because France’s tax legislation at the time lacked clarity on the declaration of inheritance assets parked in financial trusts, the court said.

The law was amended in 2011 to close this loophole.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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