Michelin Targeted in French Tax Investigation
Michelin, along with oil company Total and sports firm Adidas, is said to be under suspicion of evading taxes in France through the use of bank accounts based in the principality of Liechtenstein. According to the AFP news service, the Paris prosecutor’s office has confirmed reports that the French finance ministry had in late 2008 provided it with case files concerning foundations linked to the three companies, as well as some 30 French individuals. It said it will open a preliminary investigation into the three companies, the first step towards a possible indictment on tax evasion charges.
The French daily newspaper Le Parisien reported that the Michelin probe targets the Copa foundation, thought to be linked to the Michelin group, however the firm has denied being the target of a money-laundering probe. “The Michelin group does not own a Copa foundation, nor does it hold any accounts at the LGT bank in Liechtenstein,” a Michelin spokesman told AFP. French Budget Minister Eric Woerth confirmed on LCI television that his ministry had transferred three files to prosecutors, but would neither confirm nor deny the names of the groups involved.
Authorities in France estimated last year that French firms evaded up to one billion euros in taxes via Liechtenstein, of which Le Parisien said Michelin, Elf and Adidas accounted for “a large part”.