The anti-corruption NGO Transparency International (TIF) announced in a press release on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint in Paris, in particular for acts of “laundering” targeting possible ill-gotten gains in France by “businessmen and senior officials close to Vladimir Putin”.
A system that extends to France, according to the NGO
The non-governmental organization has “filed a complaint against X for money laundering, non-justification of resources, concealment and complicity, in order to denounce the system of capture of the Russian State and national wealth by businessmen and senior officials close to Vladimir Putin”according to its press release.
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This system “extends its ramifications to France, in the real estate sector in particular, due to a lack of vigilance from intermediaries”she adds.
Intermediaries, nominees, front companies…
The complaint was filed Thursday with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), according to TIF, which does not give the names of the persons targeted for “avoid reprisals against his teams”.
“The ambition of the sanctions measures against Russia and the first freezing announcements come up against the difficulties of identifying the assets of the people sanctioned. In France, as elsewhere, the pursuit of the assets of the oligarchs and those close to the Russian regime is stalling”according to TIF, highlighting the “intermediaries, nominees, front companies or trusts in tax or judicial havens”.
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Through various sources, “We were able to draw up an inventory of the real estate 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 of the resources that allowed the acquisition of these assets”says Patrick Lefas, President of TIF.
Other investigations initiated by this NGO
“The purpose of this new complaint, which follows on from those filed by TIF in 2008 (Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo) and in 2011 (Tunisia, Egypt, etc.), is the sanctioning of these practices and the restitution of confiscated assets to victims of corruption”says the NGO.
In these French files of ill-gotten gains, Teodorin Obiang, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, was definitively condemned to three years of suspended prison sentence, 30 million euros of fine and confiscations of goods, after the rejection of his appeal in July 2021.
Rifaat al-Assad, uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was sentenced by the Paris Court of Appeal in September to four years in prison. He appealed in cassation.
Other investigations are underway in France. Recently, several children of Omar Bongo, the late leader of Gabon, were indicted.