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‘Keep No Traces:’ Guidebook to Secret Billions Exposed in Ruling

  • Rich French families avoided wealth tax in Canada, court says
  • The parties managed billions of euros in at least 300 trusts

To leave “no traces” as they hid billions in Canadian trusts for rich French families, a group of asset managers and lawyers referred to clients as “the old lady” or “the painter.” They periodically destroyed office computers. But relationships soured and spilled into court, and now their methods have been exposed in a ruling that reads as a guidebook to tax avoidance tricks.

The case revolves around a dispute over the control of trusts between a Montreal-based wealth management company, Blue Bridge Wealth Management Inc., and a law firm, owned by two Paris-based lawyers. While neither side prevailed in the litigation, Quebec Superior Court Judge Bernard Synnott took great care in detailing the dueling allegations of dubious management strategies, conflicts of interest and dishonesty.