Panama Papers: French far-right leader's aides had 'offshore system'

Aim of system was to get money out of France through shell companies to evade French anti-money-laundering authorities

Afp April 05, 2016

PARIS: Aides to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen put in place a "sophisticated offshore system" to hide money, Le Monde newspaper reported on Tuesday in the latest disclosure from the Panama Papers.

The aim of the system, which sent funds to Hong Kong, Singapore, the British Virgin Islands and Panama, was "to get money out of France, through shell companies and false invoices, to evade French anti-money-laundering authorities," the paper reported.

One of the key figures in the system set up by the National Front (FN) is Frederic Chatillon, head of a company called Riwal which carried out communications work for some of the party's candidates, the report said.

"In 2012, just after the presidential election, Frederic Chatillon... made arrangements to withdraw 316,000 euros ($360,000) from Riwal and to move it out of France," Le Monde said.

The money then took a complex route, involving the acquisition of a Hong Kong-based shell company called Time Dragon, whose parent company is in the British Virgin Islands and overseen by Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers.

Chatillon said late Monday the system was "perfectly legal".
The FN itself had said Monday it was "not implicated in the Panama Papers".

Marine Le Pen, who took over the leadership of the FN from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, is aiming to run for the French presidency in elections next year.