Three 'Lords of Scam' Exploited the E.U.'s Carbon Trading System for Years—What Happened to Their Billions?

'Lords of Scam,' a new Netflix doc, reveals how scammers exploited the E.U.'s carbon trading system. Here's what happened to Mardoché Mouly, Arnaud Mimran, and Samy Souied and their billions

Robin Hill-Gray - Author

Nov. 3 2021, Published 10:21 a.m. ET

EU Carbon tax scammers
Source: Netflix

Mardoché Mouly, Arnaud Mimran, and Samy Souied are the masterminds behind the scam to defraud the E.U. carbon trading system by billions of euros. According to France 24, this crime dates back to 2008 and starts with the EU's carbon trading system. What was designed to help reduce greenhouse gases ended up being a pathway for scammers to defraud the government.

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Euro Line Chart Graph
Source: Getty Images

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How the carbon quota tax scammers pulled it off.

The EU's emission trading system, or ETS, was a cap-and-trade system that allowed companies who did not meet or exceed their carbon emissions limit to sell their surplus to companies had exceeded theirs. Companies were also allowed to buy carbon credits from abroad.

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The system was not without its flaws, which were called "extreme" by environmental economics professor Katheline Schubert of Sorbonne University in Paris. Mouly, Mimran, and Souied took advantage of this system by purchasing allowances outside of Europe, thus dodging the European Union’s 19.6 value-added tax. Once the allowances were purchased, they resold those allowances in Europe, with tax. But here’s the catch: they kept the tax, bypassed the authorities, and used the money for future trades.

(left to right) Arnuad Mimran, Samy Souied, Mardoché Mouly,
Source: Mediapart

Men vactioning

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The carbon quota tax operation netted them billions of euros.

To launder the money, the men used an offshore bank in China and funneled the funds into businesses such as casinos in the form of playing chips. Clearly, this scheme goes beyond three men, given the team necessary to pull off such a massive ploy. It is reported that over 12 people were involved. French regulators grew suspicious in 2008, but it was not until 2009 that the government began to crack down, at which point they had lost an estimated €1.6 billion in tax revenue.

Mouly and Mimran were among the five people who appeared in court in 2016. Their partner, Souied, was killed, but the government still sought to try him posthumously. It is suspected by France 24 that the remaining individuals involved fled to Israel. According to The Times of Israel, Arnaud Mimran was convicted for the carbon value-added tax fraud and faces additional charges for murdering his partner Samy Souied in 2010. He also allegedly murdered his former father-in-law.

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Mardoché Mouly was also sentenced to eight years in prison for his part in the scheme. According to Katheline Schubert, the government has since cracked down on V.A.T. carbon evasion. But she believes it's not invulnerable, “Fortunately, the system has since been fixed and the same sort of fraud is no longer possible. But it is still vulnerable to other schemes. A swindler's mind has no limits.”

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Lords of Scam documentary
Source: Netflix

File on leaders of the scam

Where are the scammers now?

Arnaud Mimran has been in jail since July 2016 and remains there without parole. According to GQ, Mardoché Mouly has been released from prison and will tell the story of the scam in a new documnentary on Netflix entitled Lords of Scam. The documentary seeks to explain how the men pulled off the swindle, why Arnaud Mimran murdered Samy Souied, and how they managed to pull off such a massive scheme for so long. It is currently available to stream on Netflix.


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