Geneva art dealer said to owe CHF330 million in taxes

Yves Bouvier Keystone

Geneva art dealer Yves Bouvier is said to have evaded CHF330 million ($360 million) in taxes. This amount was mentioned in a Federal Criminal Court decision which allowed the unsealing of documents seized from Bouvier’s lawyers.

This content was published on August 4, 2020 - 15:48
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The amount is said to correspond to tax deductions made by the Geneva authorities on income from two offshore companies, according to reports in Swiss newspapers Tribune de Genève, 24 Heures and Le Temps on Tuesday. This income is said to come from sales of works of art with a total value of CHF2 billion to a Russian oligarch.

In March 2017, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) opened a special investigation against Bouvier. It accused him of not having declared all his income between 2007 and 2015. Similarly, two companies with which he was associated are alleged to have failed to pay taxes on profits.

The FTA has confiscated a property of Bouvier, which is said to be worth CHF4.5 million, as a pledge. In addition, sealed documents were seized during a house search. Bouvier and his lawyers had argued that the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege.

After a long legal tug of war, the Federal Criminal Court has now ordered the lifting of the seal, in a decision published on Monday. This decision can still be appealed to the Federal Court.

The court has not yet dealt with the accusation of tax evasion and the question of Bouvier’s domicile. Bouvier claims he left Switzerland in 2009 to settle in Singapore and is no longer taxable in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Tax Administration, however, takes the view that this domicile is fictitious and that Bouvier continued to conduct his business from Geneva.

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