Investigations are under way in Paris into the Franco-Russian Dialogue association, with the courts seeking to establish whether its leaders, an MEP and a former senator, obtained advantages in exchange for adopting positions favourable to Moscow.
Two inquiries were launched in 2021 — one concerning suspicions of corruption and influence-peddling, and the other breach of trust and money laundering, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday.
According to a source close to the investigation, EU parliamentarian Thierry Mariani, a member of the far-right National Rally (RN) who has co-chaired the association since 2012, and Yves Pozzo di Borgo, a former centrist member of the upper house Senate and member of the association, are at the centre of the probes.
According to Le Monde daily, Mariani and Pozzo di Borgo benefited from trips financed by Russia and, according to a source close to the case, the judiciary is seeking to know to what extent these gifts could be linked to positions taken in favour of Russia.
The Franco-Russian Dialogue association was created in 2004 under the patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart at the time Jacques Chirac.
It presents itself as “a privileged instrument of communication between the political, economic and cultural circles of the two countries” which aims to “contribute to the deepening of strategic relations and the privileged partnership between France and Russia”.
The two preliminary investigations were opened following a report from Tracfin, the financial intelligence unit of the French economy ministry, according to the prosecutor.
Contacted by AFP, Mariani said he was “stunned” when he “discovered the existence of these investigations through the press”.
He said the association’s accounts were “transparent and controlled” and that he had not received “any payment” from the group. “I do not hold any shares in a Russian company”, he said.
Mariani added that the association had “returned the keys to the premises” it had been occupying due to a lack of contributions.
Pozzo di Borgo did not wish to comment when contacted by AFP.
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