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France pursues Saudi princess over €6m bill

Authorities in Paris are to seize assets belonging to a Saudi princess to help cover the cost of an eye-watering €6 million bill she left behind on a recent, no-expense spared visit to the French capital.

France pursues Saudi princess over €6m bill
File photo: Jaxon EP

A judge in Nanterre, near Paris, on Wednesday ordered the seizure of three storage units owned by Maha Al-Sudairi, so that their lavish contents can be sold to pay the staggering €1 million-a-month bill the Saudi princess left behind on her last trip to Paris, French daily Le Parisien reported.

Al-Sudairi, the former wife of the late Saudi crown prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, checked into the ‘palace’ hotel Le Shangri-La in Paris in December 2011, with her 60 attendants and assistants.

By the time she left, in June 2012, Al-Sudairi had managed to rack up the barely believable total of €6 million in unpaid bills for expensive meals, jewelry, and a luxury limo service.

The princess started by renting out the entire seventh floor of the Shangri-La in the exclusive 16th arrondissement of Paris, for her personal entourage, and hired the luxury services company 'Cinquieme Etoile' ('Fifth Star') to take care of their daily meals, provide chauffeur-driven cars and a security detail, and take care of Al-Sudairi's dirty linens.

“Every day we had about 30 cars at the ready for her and those who accompanied her,” the director of Cinquieme Etoile was quoted as saying in French daily Le Parisien. “We are still awaiting payment,” added the company's boss.

That payment was estimated to amount to €1.5 million.

The day after her husband's death on June 16th, 2012, Al-Sudairi and her people attempted an audacious night flight, but were caught by staff loading limos with luggage outside the hotel.

As a member of the Saudi royal family, Al-Sudairi – who has since returned to Saudi Arabia – is protected against prosecution by her diplomatic immunity.

However, the court in Nanterre on Wednesday agreed that the contents of three lock-ups in the French capital be seized, and put towards paying the bill for Cinquieme Etoile, along with five other companies.

Authorities are hoping there will be enough to cover the bill, with the boxes believed to contain luxury leather goods, artworks, jewelery, and clothing with an estimated worth of €10-12 million.

However, the director of Cinquieme Etoile is not holding his breath. “As far the process of getting paid goes – it's going to be long, very long,” he was quoted as saying in Le Parisien.

“We'll have to take international legal action, before the items are appraised, and then sold at auction,” said the company's director.

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MONEY

Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Cryptocurrency is big business in France but the rules on the taxation of income from the currency differ to other countries.

Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Tether. Mining. Binance. To the uninitiated, cryptocurrency can sound like a different language. But, in France, it’s big business, with an estimated 3.4 million people reportedly holding at least some “crypto”.

In May, France became the first major European nation to give approval for cryptocurrency exchange Binance to operate in the country.

But this does not mean the country is operating a light touch on cryptocurrency regulations – a fact Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s CEO and founder, recognised at an event in Paris in April to launch a government-backed programme for “Web3” start-ups.

As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, more and more people may be looking to get on board. But, is it taxable? How is it taxable, and how much tax do you have to pay?

First things first: yes, cryptocurrency income is taxed. It’s income. It’s taxable.

The tax rate applicable for capital gains and income from crypto assets depends on whether you’re a professional trader, an occasional investor or a miner.

France’s Direction Générale des Finances Publiques (DGFiP) says that capital gains from the sale of crypto assets like bitcoins are currently taxed at the following rates:

Occasional investors – flat tax rate of 30 percent, made up of 12.8% income tax and 17.2% for social security contributions

Professional traders – BIC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

Crypto Miners – BNC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

The flat rate for occasional investors applies to individuals with financial investments in crypto assets, and other investment income like dividends and life insurance, not to professional traders. 

The DGFiP will only tax capital gains from crypto when crypto is converted into euros or any other fiat currency, if the total capital gain exceeds 305€ per year.

That means those who only dabble in crypto pay less than those who make their living from it.

The difference between an occasional investor and professional trader lies in how often you “dabble”. 

The more you play the crypto market, the more likely you are to be regarded as a professional trader – in which case the variable rate of 0 percent to 45 percent applies.

The point at which an occasional investor and professional trader isn’t obvious – that decision is made on a case-by-case basis – but the DGFiP’s working out on this calculation is based on the total investment amount, trade volumes, and how often you sell cryptocurrency. 

The more often you do this, the more likely you are to be considered a trader.

Mining, meanwhile, falls under the non-commercial profits regime of the general tax code. For more details, click on the government website, here.

As for declaring any crypto accounts you may have, there’s a special section on your annual French income tax declaration. Transfers into legal tender currency (but not another cryptocurrency), as well as purchases of goods or services using crypto, are taxable.

The overall amount of the capital gain (or loss) for the year must be entered in the annual income tax return, along with the details of the transactions

Fines for failure to declare a single bank account or investment scheme are hefty – from €1,500 to €10,000, with €3,000 being a fairly common penalty. These amounts are applied to each account you fail to declare.

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