Judge Rejects Wildenstein Family’s Second Attempt to Delay Tax Evasion Trial

The affair has been dubbed "Dallas on the Seine."

Art dealer Guy Wildenstein (left) and his lawyer Herve Temime (right) leave the Paris courthouse on January 4, 2016. Photo Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images.

The tax evasion trial of the Wildenstein art-dealing family will continue, as the presiding judge has rejected the defendants’ request for a stay, reports Le Figaro. If granted, the request would have been the second delay in a trial that began in January, in which members of the family face charges of tax fraud and aggravated money laundering related to their handling of an estate that may be worth as much as $1 billion.

The family had requested that the tax case be sorted out with French authorities in civil court first, before the criminal trial could proceed. In rejecting this plea, Judge Olivier Geron said that while the request was a serious one, that move could have delayed the criminal trial by several years. He said that granting the family’s request would have set a precedent in which criminal justice would be reduced to merely a residual role in all cases involving complex tax fraud, according to Le Figaro.

Guy Wildenstein has been accused, along with other members of the family, of attempting to evade estate taxes after their father, Daniel Wildenstein, died in 2001. Authorities say that the heirs tried to shift their inheritance into various tax havens. He faces a potential sentence of 10 years in prison along with fines, according to the Associated Press.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Herve Temime, one of Guy Wildenstein’s lawyers, suggested that the criminal court could end up issuing a sentence, only to find that tax authorities levied no charges. “This isn’t a dodging strategy,” he told Bloomberg, saying that conflicting determinations in the civil and criminal proceedings would be a “totally incoherent” situation.

Testimony by the heirs is expected to last until October 20.

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