Optical Center: search of the headquarters as part of a tax evasion investigation

Several people were also taken into custody. FRED TANNEAU / AFP

A preliminary investigation has been open since October 2021, in particular for organized gang tax evasion and money laundering.

A search was carried out on Thursday morning at the headquarters of Optical center and seven people were taken into police custody as part of an investigation opened since October 2021, in particular for organized gang tax evasion and money laundering, said the public prosecutor’s office. Paris requested by AFP. The group’s CEO, Laurent Lévy, who has been living in Israel since 2005, is not one of those arrested, a source familiar with the matter told AFP.

According to Le Monde and franceinfo, the group specializing in optics and hearing is suspected of having set up a system of false invoices and overvalued services to significantly reduce the amount of its taxes. Companies, for the benefit of Laurent Lévy, would have been created, in particular in Israel and Hong Kong, to receive the funds concealed from the French tax authorities.

According to Le Monde, 200 million euros in suspicious financial flows were identified between 2018 and 2020. The investigation, entrusted to the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial Offenses (OCLCIFF) and the National Repression Brigade of tax delinquency (BNRDF), was opened after a report from Tracfin, the financial intelligence unit of Bercy, according to the close source and the prosecution.

Multiple Offenses

The investigations relate to several offences: tax evasion in an organized gang, money laundering, usually committed, of property or funds derived from this offence, misuse of the property or credit of a joint-stock company by a manager for personal purposes carried out or facilitated by the interposition of a person established abroad.

Also covered are tax evasion carried out or facilitated by an account opened or a contract entered into with an organization established abroad, the inaccurate or fictitious entry in an accounting document and the non-disclosure to the prosecution of criminal acts by statutory auditor of a legal entity. A major optical and hearing brand created in 1991 by Laurent Lévy, Optical center has 650 stores, including 43 in several European countries, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom, according to the group’s website.

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