Former geologist tries to fail in New Zealand confidence vote

Claude Caillat, a former Areva (Orano) geologist, is on trial in Paris for failing to declare a New Zealand trust, in a hearing that sheds light on the financial practices of the French nuclear giant at the time. He discovered uranium deposits in Canada in 2005, exploring northern Quebec with another geologist and an old friend. Two years later, Areva bought 10% of Canadian prospector Oranor for C$47 million, which the Canadian tax authorities granted tax breaks for the creation. Immediately after the acquisition, a Canadian tax lawyer based in the Bahamas set up a trust backed by a Luxembourg account, with Mr Caillat as its sole beneficiary. The chairman described the financial arrangement as “very opaque,” ​​“complex,” and even “deliberate.”

Defending the accused

Claude Caillet, 71, denied that he wanted to defraud the tax authorities, claiming that he “never enriched himself personally” and “in no way” benefited from the fund. He described himself as a “field geologist” and an outsider to the financial world. He said he never considered the money in the fund to be his own. He also stressed that Areva’s strategy was to sell nuclear reactors, and that the key for management was to make its clients believe it had uranium resources.

Difficult investigation

The inquiry is to try to trace the financial flux from then on to this trust and identify the beneficiaries who were found to be absent or in need of cooperation from Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Mr. Kellat's lawyer, Laurent Le Mihaut, estimated that his client had been “manipulated” and that the real fraudsters would not have to worry because they were abroad. The National Financial Prosecutor's Office has requested a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 200,000 euros. For the prosecution, Mr. Kellat had “partial control” over 2 million euros invested in disability insurance in Great Britain and was involved in “concealment” acts. The verdict is scheduled for 21 March.

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