The trial of the mass fraud in the neighborhood of the Sentier in Paris could be postponed for a small procedural error.

The case of the century 540 million francs withdrawn simultaneously to 32 banks was perfectly organized.

On the other hand, the lawsuit of the century is badly left. This morning, 115 shopkeepers in the Sentier district in Paris, specialized in clothing, were to be tried in correctional law for “organized gang fraud” (exchange of fictitious drafts, for the most part). Not to mention a handful of bankers and insurers accomplices, prosecuted for “aggravated money laundering”. A total of 124 defendants were to appear. Bleachers have even been installed in the hall of the Palais de Justice in Paris to accommodate 400 people. But the great judicial report should be summed up by reading the order for reference (244 pages). The continuation of the trial will be examined at best on May 24, at worst by the end of the year.

“Technical error”.

A small skirmish of procedure seized a mechanics yet well oiled. Erick Abitbol, arrested on November 18, 1997, at dawn, during the first raid of cops in the Sentier, had not been notified his rights until 10:20, once embarked on the premises of the financial brigade. “A technical error, argues an investigator. Generally, rights are notified orally during the search, but the PV is written later. In the case of Abitbol, we forgot to mention on the PV that his rights had been previously notified. “Fatalities: the 13 April, the Court of Cassation considered illegal the detention of Erick Abitbol. The Indictment Division, which will have to re-examine its case on May 19, could simply “groom” the proceedings. Or she could go further by canceling all the acts of the instruction following the detention of Erick Abitbol. As his name appears in volume 11 of a file that has 53, we imagine the disaster “The defender of a trader of the Trail does not believe too much:” The floor hopes that the indictment chamber will sit on the right for the trial to take place anyway. “Justice considers especially that this procedural incident does not jeopardize the case.After all, Abitbol was not one of the main persons in charge of the put cavalry network. in the Trail (he himself defined himself as a “valet”) and could therefore be judged later, alone, once his file has been reconstituted, which in any case gave wings to the lawyers, who They dispute the very notion of fraud in organized gangs, and therefore the principle of a mass trial: “This is the biggest operation of judicial intoxication.The case is only a heteroclite montage of several medium-sized scams.” However, the order for reference describes by the menu a true able system, “organized into nine structured and interconnected networks”. Several of its members even told the investigators that meetings were held between network leaders in a café on the Trail. Valérie Tirel, one of the linchpins of the system, explained how sometimes it was necessary to sacrifice certain companies for the needs of the network.

Fast rotation.

The three basic principles are cavalry, carambouille, and bleaching. The cavalry consists of obtaining a loan from Sportseport to finance fictitious exchanges of goods: as the bank does not have the means to verify the reality of the stocks, it endorses the drafts and advances the funds with eyes closed. The same trade can circulate several times between different traders, different banks. The carambouille consists in reselling goods without even having paid them: again, it is the rapid rotation of the stocks that allows the scam. In both cases, everything usually ends with a bankruptcy: bankers and suppliers are planted; the author of the combine, hidden behind a straw manager, can start on another circuit.

Money laundering, finally: phony checks between companies are deposited in an exchange office complicit against cash, which is invested in contracts signed with a friend insurer (three agents of the PSU were indicted). The investigators also uncovered a circuit of capital evasion via the Anglo-Irish Bank, based in Vienna (its head, a French, asked in Austria for disaster to escape prosecution). In most cases, the final destination of the funds was Israel.

Escape abroad.

Everything seems to suggest a perfectly orchestrated scam from the beginning. Its code name, first: the operation “plant banks”, in all simplicity. The fact that the network leaders have themselves considered the “explosion” of the system in 1997, and its logical consequence: their flight abroad. After making their hand in 1995, they prepared the final bouquet: of the 2,699 drafts reviewed by the investigators, 2,181 were written between February and October 1997. “A remarkable concentration,” note the order for reference.

In fact, fifteen of the main officials are now refugees abroad. Notably the close guard of Chaim Weizman, whose network has “planted” banks by 150 million alone. The Israeli government has since been planning to amend its legislation which prohibits the extradition of its nationals with dual nationality: they could be tried in France, provided they serve their sentence in Israel.

Computer companies.

Once launched the trail trial, the investigators will not finish with the trilogy cavalry-carambouille-laundering. To prevent the judicial investigation from dragging on for years, they effectively disjoined the various files. The Trail component was completed in two years. It still remains to instruct a cavalry affair among computer companies in the Paris region: the oldest profession (economic) of the world was not the prerogative of the only kings of the fur.

In the program, too, the insurance fraud: the doubtful fire of a warehouse in Aubervilliers, already mentioned in the case of the Trail, would be only the first of a long series. And again money laundering operations abroad.