November 28, 2021

the new life in Dubai of Philippe Houman, the Swiss lawyer of Jérôme Cahuzac

By Anne Michel, Jérémie Baruch and Maxime Vaudano

Posted today at 6:00 a.m.

He had been left in Paris, in February 2018, at the appeal trial of Jérôme Cahuzac, when he explained learnedly, at the bar, that offshore is easy. “I understand that the diagram you have in front of your eyes is puzzling, but there is nothing very complicated”, had launched, Faraud, the Swiss lawyer Philippe Houman. The very one that the criminal court had qualified as ” Kingpin “ of the clever arrangement set up by the former socialist budget minister to evade the tax authorities. Through shell companies in the Seychelles and the Samoan Islands, Mr. Houman had allowed Mr. Cahuzac’s hidden money to be transferred from Switzerland to Singapore. His 2016 sentence to one year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 375,000 euros was confirmed on appeal two years later.

What are the “Pandora Papers”?

“Pandora Papers” is a collaborative investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with 150 international media, including The world. It is based on the leak of nearly 12 million confidential documents, transmitted by an anonymous source to the ICIJ, from the archives of fourteen firms specializing in the creation of offshore companies in tax havens (British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Singapore, Panama, Seychelles…).

Five years after the “Panama Papers”, the survey reveals the extent of the abuses of the offshore industry and its limited companies. She shows how this system benefits hundreds of policymakers, and how new tax havens are taking over as old ones convert to transparency.

To read : “Pandora Papers”: a world dive into the secrets of offshore finance

Easy, offshore? Three years later, the facts prove the intermediary right. Because, despite the scandal and the tightening of laws against banking secrecy, tax fraud and optimization, we find him today at the head of a flourishing business of administration of companies created in all tax havens. of the planet. His small company, Monfort Capital Partners, is based in Dubai, opposite the island of Palm Jumeirah, in a popular area of ​​the flamboyant emirate, bristling with steel and glass skyscrapers.

A second homeland, much less showy, for this former lawyer at the Geneva bar specializing in the administration of companies, who left Switzerland around 2009, when banking secrecy began to falter. “After the scandals, many Swiss lawyers gave up this offshore activity. But some decided instead that she was a carrier and pursued her, analyzes Carlo Lombardini, himself a lawyer at the Geneva bar and professor of law. They probably feel protected by settling in faraway states. “

The headquarters of Monfort Capital Partners in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), in September 2021.

Too cumbersome partner

5,000 kilometers from Switzerland, Philippe Houman is discreet. Barely a showcase site for Monfort Capital, with a phone number and an e-mail address. Admittedly, the Cahuzac affair cost him his relationship with Mossack Fonseca, the “Panama Papers” firm, which had preferred to sever ties with this too cumbersome partner. But the “Pandora Papers” attest to the vitality of the company. In relation with other offshore firms in Cyprus, Panama or the British Virgin Islands, Monfort Capital has managed in recent years more than a hundred offshore companies, for a diversified international clientele whose assets number in the millions – of euros, dollars, rubles. Mr. Houman even directly played the role of director in some of his clients’ companies, thus preventing them from appearing in the open.

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