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Sean Connery's wife busted in property tax fraud in "Project Goldfinger"


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Sean Connery's wife charged with Spanish property tax fraud


Micheline Roquebrune could face potential £16m fine and two-year jail term if convicted of allegations relating to sale of property in Marbella

Sean Connery’s wife has been charged with taking part in an alleged plot to defraud the Spanish treasury of millions of euros in property taxes.

If convicted, Micheline Roquebrune, 86, could face a fine of up to £16m and a jail term of up to two and a half years.

An indictment released by the Marbella state prosecutor shows Roquebrune is accused of taking part in a tax fraud after an investigation uncovered apparent irregularities surrounding the sale in 1998 of Malibu, the couple’s property in Marbella, for €6.4m (£5.6m).

Connery, 85, best known for his James Bond roles, was cleared at the beginning of last year by the long-running investigation, which Spanish officials named Operation Goldfinger. But prosecutors allege that Roquebrune conspired with lawyers and businessmen to hide profits from the sale. She denies the allegations.

Connery and his wife owned Malibu for several decades before reportedly selling it for €6.4m (£5.6m). The property was subsequently demolished and 73 luxury flats built on the site, despite the local authority giving planning permission for only five family homes. The flats allegedly yielded a €53m (£37m) profit.

The prosecution states that Roquebrune was connected to a Spanish company involved in the scheme, called By the Sea, and that together they aided and abetted an operation to defraud the Spanish treasury of nearly £5.5m. It is claimed that she collaborated with lawyers and businessmen to formalise “fictitious legal transactions” that hid the profits related to the sale.

Sean Connery fails to appear in Spanish court
A letter will now by sent to Roquebrune in the Bahamas, where she and Connery live, informing her of the court’s decision and ordering her to appoint a defence lawyer. The trial will take place at a criminal court in Málaga; the date is yet to be set.

Sixteen more defendants are due to be tried next year on related charges, including tax fraud and taking bribes. Among those accused are Julián Muñoz, a former mayor of Marbella, and Juan Antonio Roca, the resort’s former chief planner, who are already in jail for corruption.

Last year the investigating magistrate, Alfredo Mondeja, criticised Connery and Roquebrune for actions that he said had delayed the investigation. He cleared Connery only after the threat of an international arrest warrant forced the actor to submit a 56-page affidavit denying wrongdoing.

Connery’s affidavit came two and a half years after it was requested and three and a half years after he and Roquebrune failed to appear in court in Marbella, where they had been summoned to testify in the case.

Mondeja said at the time: “Although the delays may have harmed the progress of the case, it’s also true that if the suspects had observed the proper rules of conduct, namely a minimum level of cooperation with the judicial authorities, the fate of those suspects would have been clarified more than two years ago.”

Operation Goldfinger was a spin-off from the far larger Operation Malaya investigation into corruption in Marbella. It led to about 50 people being convicted for charges including bribery, property fraud and money laundering.

Sean Connery's wife charged with Spanish property tax fraud | World news | The Guardian
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