(JTA) — The winner of an Israeli cooking show turned out to be none other than the wife of a man who fled France after having participated in schemes that defrauded the country out of more than $400 million.
Vanessa Abittan, who lives in Raanana, cooked her way to gold on Israel’s “Master Chef” on Saturday night. As the camera showed her husband in the audience, a reporter at Israel’s Channel 13 realized that he was none other than Eddie Abittan, who was convicted in absentia in France and sentenced to two six-year prison terms, The Times of Israel reported.
Vanessa Abittan said on the show that she moved to the Jewish state more than 10 years ago because she loved the country, according to the Times of Israel.
Her husband was convicted of participating in what is known as the carbon-VAT fraud, which concerns carbon emission quotas imposed by the European Union. Fraudsters bought credits without a value added tax, or VAT, and then sold them with the tax without paying it to the government.
There were 12 fraud networks involved in the scam in France, and most of participants were French-Israeli citizens, according to France24. Eddie Abittan was convicted in 2016 and 2017 for participating in two separate scams totaling more than $400 million. But he was nowhere to be found and French prosecutors believed he had fled to Israel.
Meanwhile, his wife is doing well for herself. She was recently profiled in Israel Hayom and featured in several video advertisements for the Israeli fashion brand Crazy Line released this week.