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Nina Ricci heiress avoids jail for tax fraud

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Nina Ricci heiress avoids jail for tax fraud
Photo: AFP
12:02 CEST+02:00
A French appeals court ruled Friday that the heiress to the estate of fashion designer Nina Ricci will not serve jail time over her conviction for tax fraud, reducing an earlier sentence.
The court handed Arlette Ricci, 76, a three-year suspended sentence and confirmed a one-million-euro ($1.1 million) fine and the confiscation of two properties.
 
In what was viewed as one of the toughest sentences of its kind in France, Ricci was handed a three-year prison sentence, two years of which were suspended, in April 2015 for hiding €18.7 million from the taxman for more than two decades.
 
She appealed the sentence last December.
 
The appeals court Friday confirmed the conviction but said the sentence of "three years' imprisonment is fully suspended".
 
The heiress did not attend the hearing "for health reasons". The Nina Ricci fashion house, founded in 1932 in Paris, is known for its luxury perfumes -- especially the floral classic L'Air du Temps.
 
The case against Arlette Ricci began after revelations that the Swiss private banking arm of British giant HSBC had helped clients hide billions from the taxman, in what became known as the SwissLeaks scandal.
 
The original sentence in 2015 was considered exceptionally tough in France, where tax fraud is typically punished by fines and recovery of claimed sums, but hardly ever by jail.
 
But the court at the time said the heiress's actions had posed "an exceptional threat to public order" and that she had disguised her true wealth "for more than 20 years with particular determination."

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