A secret department has been created in France’s Tax Authority to investigate tax evasions by French Jews, Globes reported. The new department is targeting Jews who live in France and French olim living in Israel.

According to the report, the department already employs 20 Hebrew-speakers, and is hiring five more. Their aim is to catch French tax evaders who are using Israel as a tax shelter.

According to Globes, the new department examines Land Registry files of deals contracted in Israel by French residents, concentrating on French “colonies” in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Netanya, and Jerusalem. Investigators cross-reference this information with their own databases and the reports by the same French Jews on their assets and income. When they discover unreported properties purchased in Israel, the person is summoned for questioning.

The Globes report cites the attorney of a French Jew who was audited and presented with a thorough listing of all his properties in Israel. The same attorney then had a casual conversation with tax authority employees who let it slip that a special, secret department has been gathering those lists.

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Apparently, the French tax authority has been conducting interrogations of Jewish citizens who plan to immigrate to Israel, demanding details of undeclared money or assets that they may have stashed away in Israel prior to starting their immigration process.

The Globes report cites a Bar-Ilan University study showing the Israeli economy stands to gain $65 billion from integrating French Jews, with the expectation that by 2026 100,000 olim will arrive from France.

The French embassy in Israel said in response, “In the framework of the campaign against tax evasion, the authorities in France conduct investigations concerning individual cases, in accordance with the international agreements. The authorities in France deny the existence of a special department. It is extremely important to state that the things that were written are false.”

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Source: Israel in the News