International CEO Fraud: Seven Years in Prison for 65-Year-Old in Austria, Extradition to France Awaits!

CEO Fraudster sentenced in Austria
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In a dramatic conclusion to a high-profile internet fraud trial, a 65-year-old Israeli was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in serious commercial fraud. The verdict, delivered in Graz, Austria, marks the end of a prolonged legal battle that has seen the defendant previously serve five years in custody. Remarkably, despite the conviction, the defendant was able to leave the court a free man, pending potential further charges in France.

The man was apparently part of a French-Israeli CEO fraud network that was dismantled in 2023 in several international law enforcement operations coordinated by Europol.

The accused was arrested by Austrian and Israeli police officers in Israel five years ago. He spent seven months in custody there before being extradited to Austria. Originally, he was sentenced to nine years in October 2022 for commercial fraud, money laundering, and involvement in a criminal organization, and he has already spent five years behind bars. Born in Tunisia and most recently residing in Israel, the man now spends his days engaged in Talmud studies at a center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., supported financially by his wife.

The case revolves around the emergence of a sophisticated scam known as “CEO fraud,” which surfaced in 2012. This scheme involves fraudsters impersonating company executives and convincing financial officers to transfer large sums of money for fictitious company acquisitions under the guise of confidentiality. The scam has claimed notable victims, including aircraft supplier FACC AG, which lost almost €53 million to the fraudsters, with total damages estimated at €56 million.

The 65-year-old defendant was a key figure operating behind the scenes of this fraud. He established numerous companies to funnel the illicit funds, making their trail untraceable. Additionally, he operated a “forgery workshop” that produced the necessary documents, stamps, and certificates to carry out the fraud. Despite the defense lawyer’s insistence that his client did not profit from the crimes, the defendant chose to remain mostly silent during the trial.

Compounding his legal troubles, the French authorities have expressed interest in extraditing the defendant to face further charges. The defense lawyer has contested the fairness of the proceedings in Israel, where the defendant was interrogated without a certified interpreter or legal representation, describing it as a “serious disregard for the rights of the accused.”

The Graz court convicted the defendant of aiding and abetting serious commercial fraud, with the charge of criminal association factored into his seven-year sentence. This new sentence is a reduction from the previous nine-year term. The court has also ordered conditional release after more than two-thirds of the sentence, considering his five years of pre-trial detention, meaning he could have effectively served his sentence if the verdict becomes final.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the potential for extradition to France looms, adding another layer of complexity to this international fraud saga. The verdict in Graz is not yet final, leaving open the possibility of further legal maneuvers in the weeks to come.

CategoriesCEO Fraud

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