Patrick Balkany: trial of high-living mayor who thought he could do as he pleased

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On Monday May 13th 2019 the mayor of a wealthy Paris suburb, Patrick Balkany, and his wife Isabelle Balkany went on trial in the French capital for offences including tax fraud and money laundering. They are accused of having hidden some 13 million euros from the tax authorities, and prosecutors say they are the true owners of luxury properties in France, the Caribbean and Morocco. Alongside them on trial is lawyer Arnaud Claude who, like the Balkanys, is a personal friend of former president Nicolas Sarkozy as well as having been his partner in a law firm. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan sets the scene on a high-profile trial.

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It was, as it transpired, a huge blunder. When Patrick Balkany, mayor of the well-heeled north-west Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, opposed the political return of a man called Didier Schuller in a neighbouring town in the 2014 local elections, he had no idea at the time that he was turning his former friend into a formidable enemy.