A French judge has cleared international art dealer Guy Wildenstein of hiding valuable paintings to dodge paying tax.
Wildenstein, 71, the Franco-American heir of a billion-dollar New York art dealing empire, was accused of concealing much of his inherited fortune from French tax authorities in trusts held in offshore havens.
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The judge in Paris' criminal court Thursday cited shortcomings in the investigation as the reason behind the acquittal — a blow to French tax authorities which are clamping down on fraud across the board.
Wildenstein was accused of "fiscal fraud and money-laundering" and had faced up to 10 years in prison. He did not attend Thursday's court proceedings.