The financial prosecutor’s office opens an investigation into the assets of Russian oligarchs in France

The financial prosecutor’s office opens an investigation into the assets of Russian oligarchs in France

Property acquired in France by Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin is in the sights of justice, AFP learned on Monday, confirming information from the Parisian. The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation on July 1, which was then entrusted to the Central Office for the Suppression of Serious Financial Crime.

This investigation follows a complaint against X, filed at the end of May in Paris by the NGO Transparency International (TIF), targeting possible ill-gotten gains in France by “businessmen and senior officials close to Vladimir Putin”. According to the NGO, which does not give the names of the people targeted to “avoid reprisals”, the system developed “extends its ramifications to France, in the real estate sector in particular, due to a lack of vigilance intermediaries”.

“The pursuit of the assets of those close to the Russian regime is stalling”

“The ambition of the sanctions measures against Russia and the first announcements of freezing come up against the difficulties of identifying the assets of the people sanctioned. In France, as elsewhere, the tracking of the assets of the oligarchs and those close to the Russian regime is stalled” , explained in a TIF press release, emphasizing “intermediaries, nominees, shell companies or trusts in tax or judicial havens”.

Thanks to various sources, “we were able to draw up an inventory of the real estate assets in France of several oligarchs and those close to the Russian regime, identify the chains of properties set up for this purpose, and bring together a body of evidence on the illicit origin resources that allowed the acquisition of this heritage”, said Patrick Lefas, president of TIF.

Credit freezes that could facilitate the investigation

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the international community has compiled a list of names of Russian oligarchs whose assets have been frozen. A measure which could be in certain cases “a factor of acceleration of the investigation” and would allow “extensive measures of seizure and in the event of criminal conviction, confiscations”, according to Me William Bourdon, lawyer of TIF. In France, several properties (villas, estates, apartments) have been identified, on the Côte d’Azur, in the Rhône-Alpes region, in Paris but also in the South-West.

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