A Frenchman sentenced in absentia for a scam that tricked dozens of French banks and businesses out of millions of euros has been arrested in Ukraine, according to French media, judicial sources, and the man’s lawyer.
The lawyer for Gilbert Chikli on August 19 said the a 51-year-old had been arrested on August 18 and that an extradition hearing had been scheduled for August 20.
It was not immediately clear what Chikli was doing in Ukraine when he was arrested.
Chikli was allegedly behind a scheme that led to some major French companies being conned out of millions of euros.
According to authorities, Chikli would contact companies posing as either their CEO or a secret service agent and tell them to hand over large sums of money, often on the pretense of it being part of an operation to fight money laundering.
Between 2005-06, at least 33 banks and businesses were targeted, with an initial loss of 60.5 million euros ($71.15 million).
At least 52.6 million euros of the amount was later recovered.
Chikli spent several months in custody before being released pending trial in France. He then fled to Israel in 2009, living openly and talking of his schemes.
In 2015, he was sentenced in absentia to a seven-year prison term and fined 1 million euros, and he was ordered to pay 5.5 million euros in damages to victims.