An unregistered ‘faith healer’ was found to have been banking up to €40,000 per month when investigators looked into the illegal practice of medicine and fraud.
Almost €1 million of assets were seized from the 76-year-old, identified to the media as Daniel M, who was taken into custody for two days before being released in September.
Not registered for tax or social security
Mr M, who lives near Pons in Charente-Maritime, claimed that most of his wealth came from an inheritance.
He also said he did not have any official income other than a small agricultural pension.
In a statement, local public prosecutor Benjamin Alla said the investigation into Mr M’s affairs revealed that he did not have a business registered with the French tax authorities.
Neither was he registered with Urssaf, the agency that collects and distributes social security contributions.
Despite that, investigators discovered that he sometimes banked up to €40,000 a month.
Yet “virtually no everyday expenses” showed in the accounts, apart from a few direct debits.
Gold bars and appointment books found at home
Mr Alla said Mr M had been working as a guérisseur, or faith healer, for many years.
He cited appointment books filled with what appeared to be client bookings at his home.
Also found were 3.7kg of gold bars, worth €228,000 at the time, as well as €11,000 in cash and €376,000 in savings and other bank accounts.
Officials claimed that, over six years, Mr M’s “illicit” activity resulted in him evading €952,000 in taxes and duties.
All the seized assets will be used to pay back the state.
No dates for a tax tribunal hearing or for a possible criminal trial for illegally practising medicine have been set.
Former president François Mitterrand employed an astrologer
French people are well-known to be open to the occult, with adverts for astrologers and fortune tellers regular features in most newspapers.
Former president François Mitterrand, who grew up in the small town of Jarnac, not far from Pons, employed the services of astrologer Élizabeth Teissier while in office between 1981 and 1995.
She was rumoured to have been given an office inside the Elysée Palace, the official residence of French presidents.
Ms Teissier was consulted on issues such as the best times for the president to speak to the French nation on television.
She also advised on the timing of an official visit by then-US president George Bush, much to the consternation of White House administrators.