French authorities are investigating alleged “aggravated money laundering” contained in transfers between a BNP Paribas affiliate and a Cypriot brokerage firm that might have benefitted a Russian warlord, according to media reports.
French newspaper Le Monde reported Tuesday that French judicial authorities were targeting “numerous suspicious financial flows” from 2019-21 between Cyprus-based brokerage firm TCR International Limited and its banking partner, which at the time was BNP Paribas Securities Services.
The amounts of the suspicious transfers were more than 220 million euros (U.S. $244 million), according to Le Monde.
The report added French authorities’ interest in TCR International was linked to a probe by U.S. investigators into Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of the mercenary organization known as Wagner Group. Prigozhin died in a plane crash in August. Wagner Group fought alongside Russian troops during its invasion of Ukraine and recruited new soldiers from inmates in Russia’s prison system.
Prigozhin also led the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused in a 2018 indictment of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election.
BNP Paribas and TCR International did not respond to requests for comment. BNP Paribas told Reuters it could not comment on the investigation but that it “has a global compliance system in place and was committed to meeting its regulatory obligations.”