Mercedes GLC, Audi RS6, Mercedes AMG, BMW 1 series, Lamborghini Huracan. Change of theme this Tuesday, September 27 in Lorient, at the trial of the “Chinese”. After the luxury clothing and cocaine trade that was mentioned during the first day of the hearing, the court switches to the money laundering part of the case. The question posed by President Aurore Carpentier seems simple: is the 500,000 euros that the “Chinese” claims to have earned between 2018 and 2020 the result of selling drugs (which he denies) or of a car business? The respondent’s answer is much less clear. Always so talkative and voluptuous, the “Chinese” defends himself with beak and claws.
“I meant no harm. I should have opened an account. It’s an oversight”
Asked the first, however, his wife is no mystery. “Yes”, she accepted that the gray cards of certain cars that passed through the hands of her spouse were put in her name. And above all “yes”, she transferred large sums of money to her personal account. Her son’s father had no bank account. She admits that she is afraid of being pinched. “I didn’t like the big cars because they cost a lot of money. I told myself that if the tax authorities asked me to give reasons, I could not”. Her husband reassured her.
At the head of the court, the latter denies with the same force as the cocaine smuggler that he knowingly laundered money. “I bought and sold cars. I never thought it was money laundering.” So why operate almost exclusively in cash? “I bought and sold cash for convenience. I meant no harm. I should have opened an account. It’s an oversight”. A “three-year oversight,” squeaks the president. And when buyers wanted to pay by bank transfer, the “Chinese” used his wife’s account. Or friends, including former soccer player Walid Mesloub, convicted in this case in April 2022 of money laundering. Summer, insists the “Chinese”, who “came in and came out immediately”.
The strange purchase of the Lamborghini
President Carpentier questions him about every purchase of cars, motorcycles, boats, quads or buggies. There are dozens of them. The “Chinese”, himself, gets lost between the models and the buzzers. No transaction is simple and made in the rules. The Lamborghini? He traded it in for a Mercedes GLC. Problem: the first one is worth 100,000 euros. The other 175,000 euros. In an interception, the “Chinese” evokes a recovery of GLC 78,000 euros, a transfer of 50,000 and the rest in between. “I only gave the car,” he says today.
Another disturbing element: the vehicle is put in the name of Walid Mesloub, without his knowledge. “With a gray card in the name of a football player, it could be sold more easily”, reasons the “Chinese”. According to him, the former FC Lorient footballer was a connoisseur of cars whom he only asked for advice. In two years, 196,000 euros from relatives of the “Chinese” have yet passed through the accounts of the former Algerian international.
A deliberately underdeveloped company?
If the court is interested with such great precision in all its transactions, it is also because they do not reveal in advance a very flourishing business. According to the statements of several protagonists, the alleged trafficker very often sold his vehicles at a loss. “This is also the principle of money laundering. You have illegally earned money, you put it back into the system. You lose a little, but you end up with goods you can enjoy,” the president presses, while recalling that 175,000 euros in cash were seized during the police raid.
I am not white as snow, but I feel that some are trying to save their own skin by going in the direction of justice and against me
The “Chinese” defends itself by revealing its “schemes”. He managed the profit on cars bought abroad by skipping the eco tax. “You just have to find a person with 80% disability for the first gray card”. He also explains that he lied about the purchase price. “A seller never gives the true purchase price. Just like drug dealers. I put the price up so they felt they got a good deal.” Finally, he confirms that the buyers have not said everything. Some would have paid for it partly in cash. With black money. “I’m not white as snow, but I have the impression that some are trying to save their own skin by going in direction of justice and against me”.
The court session continues this Tuesday afternoon with the prosecution’s requisitions and the six defendants’ pleadings. The verdict is expected to be handed down on Tuesday evening or Wednesday.