Former mayor of posh Paris district jailed along with wife for 'persistent fraud'

The former mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, and his wife, Isabelle, lost their appeal Wednesday against a money laundering and tax fraud conviction. 

Patrick and Isabelle Balkany, right-wing politicians who for years governed the wealthy Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, were sentenced to prison terms of five and four years respectively.

But they were not ordered behind bars immediately pending an appeal to France's highest court. Patrick Balkany had been released to house arrest in February because of health problems.

The two had already lost in March an appeal against tax fraud convictions after they were found guilty of using offshore accounts to hide at least 13 million euros in assets from the tax authorities, including luxury villas in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh and in the West Indies.

On Wednesday, the appeals court confirmed the seizure of assets as well as the payment of one million euros in damages, saying the couple had implemented a system of "persistent fraud".

Patrick Balkany, 71, was first elected mayor of Levallois-Perret in 1983 and also held a seat in parliament for many years. He appeared in the Paris courtroom without his wife and made no comment after the decision.

His lawyer Romain Dieudonne said he had five days to decide on a further appeal, while his wife's lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur told reporters the ruling was "excessive."

The couple was also sentenced to 10 years' ineligibility and each spouse was fined 100,000 euros.

(with AFP)