A lawyer on Monday (Dec. 9) was convicted in Swiss court of laundering money and forgery for stealing shares from Belgium’s richest family, according to a report by Reuters.
The lawyer, who was not identified in keeping with Switzerland law, stole shares worth upward of $60 million and stashed the money in various accounts and offshore companies.
The lawyer denied the charges and was sentenced to 30 months, with half of it suspended and minus time already served. The prosecutor asked for 4 years. The court ordered the confiscation of tens of millions of dollars in the accounts.
“It was almost a perfect crime. But when you put together a financial scheme, you have to remember what you have already done. You end up making big mistakes,” plaintiff lawyer Vincent Jeanneret said during the proceedings.
The theft was fairly brash, and drew comparisons to Hollywood heist movie “Catch Me If You Can.” The lawyer stashed the money in Singapore, Dubai and Monaco.
The lawyer was previously convicted in 2016 for attempted fraud involving Anheuser Busch InBev heiress Amicie de Spoelberch, who is the widow of Luka Bailo. She got 24 months for that crime, with 15 of it suspended.
On Monday, Prosecutor Niki Casanato said that the federal justice office in Switzerland had received a request from Luxembourg for the lawyer to serve her sentence.
About 915,000 bearer shares were removed from a safe deposit box in Luxembourg in 2004, after Bailo died. His sons, Alexis and Patrice, brought the case forward, and the lawyer was arrested again in 2017.
“We are satisfied with the ruling … which demolishes the lies proffered for many years,” said Pierre de Preux, lead lawyer for the Bailo brothers.
The suspicions began in 2008 when a whistleblower leaked information about thousands of clients of HSBC private bank. The lawyer’s account, containing $40 million, was in the leak.
“Three banks made declarations about possible money-laundering — Mirabaud, HSBC and Rothschild. That set off the investigation,” Dominique LeCoq, a Bailo lawyer, told the court.