French court ups ‘Oxford guru’ conman’s jail term

Thierry Tilly, the "Oxford guru" who conned a wealthy French family into giving him €4.5 million, had his eight-year sentence increased to a decade in court on Tuesday.

French court ups 'Oxford guru' conman's jail term
Thierry Tilly, the "Oxford guru" who swindled €4.5 million from a wealthy French family, had his eight-year jail sentence bumped up to ten years on June 4th. Photo: Mr Alibekki/Youtube

Initially sentenced to eight years in jail for swindling a French family out of their fortune, a conman will now have to spend a decade behind bars after a court of appeal Tuesday bumped up his punishment.

Over 10 years, Thierry Tilly managed to persuade a family of Protestant nobles in southwest France to give him €4.5 million euros and sell their belongings after convincing them they were targets of a masonic plot.

He was sentenced to eight years in jail in November in the southwestern city of Bordeaux for what a judge called a "machiavellian plot", and a court of appeal increased the sentence to 10 years.

Victims of his manipulation from 1999 to 2009, the family locked themselves away in their home, earning them the nickname "recluses of Monflanquin" in reference to the medieval village of that name near their chateau.

Tilly, who claimed descent from Austria's royal Habsburg dynasty, had used manipulation techniques to convince the 11-strong family their lives were at risk from an international plot by Freemasons that only he could defeat.

He was eventually convicted of false imprisonment and psychological abuse last November.

The presiding judge at the time said that among the techniques the self-styled guru used were "creation of group paranoia… exploitation of family weaknesses… (and) a constant presence by their side, physical and then by telephone or email".

French tax authorities eventually seized the chateau when the de Vedrines family stopped paying taxes, after which Tilly took them to Oxford to live.

He was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 following a complaint by a family member who had escaped his clutches in Oxford.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French ‘more wealthy than Americans and Germans’, new study reveals

A new global wealth report has revealed that while there are far more millionaires in the United States than in France, the French are actually more wealthy than Americans on average.

French 'more wealthy than Americans and Germans', new study reveals
The US and French flags hang outside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington. AFP

Credit Suisse' annual global wealth report revealed that the number of dollar millionaires across the world grew to nearly 47 million last year and they now own close to half the world's wealth.

The United States still leads the world in total number of millionaires. The US added 675,000 new millionaires over the past year, bringing its total to a staggering 18.6 million.

In France the number is far fewer, albeit the number of millionaires in the country has jumped by 93 percent between 2010 and 2019.

France now has just over 2 million millionaires.

The ranking for wealth per adult reveals that Switzerland comes out top ($564,650) followed by Hong Kong ($489, 260) and the United States ($432, 370).

But a different ranking that looks at median wealth per adult tells a different story.

Credit Suisse notes: “The ranking by median wealth per adult favours places with lower levels of wealth inequality and produces a slightly different table. Australia (USD181,360) overtakes Hong Kong SAR (USD 146,890) to gain second place, but remains below Switzerland (USD 227,890).

“New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom retain similar positions in the top ten, but lower-than-average inequality raises Belgium (USD 117,090) to fourth place, Japan (USD 110,410) to sixth, Ireland (USD 104,840) to eighth, and France (USD 101,940) to ninth.”

Well below France comes the United States where the median wealth for adults is $65,900 and Germany ($35 313).

Median wealth is the amount that divides the wealth distribution into two equal groups: half the adults have wealth above the median, and the other half below.

France has lower levels of wealth inequality to the United States but the main reason given for the difference in median wealth between the US and France is the huge levels debt incurred by Americans.

While in Germany there is far lower levels of home ownership compared to France which explains why the median level of wealth is lover across the Rhine river.

Credit Suisse estimates that one percent of the richest Germans own 30 percent of the country's total wealth, compared  to France and Italy where the richest one percent own 22 percent of the country's wealth.