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French crook sentenced to 7 years for million-euro hoax

Gilbert Chikli. File 2010.
Gilbert Chikli. File 2010. DR/screen capture
2 min

Gilbert Chikli was sentenced in absentia on Wednesday for swindling dozens of top French banks and businesses.

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“We contact business, banks, we pretend to be their president and with a rather extraordinary gift of the gab we manage to get large amounts of money,” Chikli, 49, told French television in 2010.

He managed, with 14 alleged accomplices, to swindle a total of 60.5 million euros between 2005 and 2006, but flew to Israel in 2009 after being charged in France.

Amongst the 33 banks and businesses targeted with his scheme, were consulting group Accenture, the Post Office Bank, HSBC, aerospace firm Dassault, electricity and rail giant Alstom and chic Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette.

“A man introduced himself as the president of Credit Lyonnais and he told me a secret services agent would shortly get hold of me and that I should do everything he told me,” a former director of the Credit Lyonnais said during the trial to explain Chikli’s scheme.

Later the agent explained to her that he was working on a case involving money laundering and terrorism and needed her to transfer him money to dismantle a criminal network, which she did.

The prosecutor Alice Cherif said Chikli used mental manipulation, combined validation and isolation to dupe most of the 52 employees who since have been fired.

Chikli’s story inspired a movie that is currently being filmed.

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