A member of the French parliament from RN party Thierry Mariani and the former centrist senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo are targeted by these investigations for corruption.
Two investigations are underway in Paris since 2021, for suspicions of corruption and influence peddling on the one hand and breach of trust and money laundering on the other hand, targeting the association Franco-Russian Dialogue. It was made public at the prosecutor’s office in Paris, Le Figaro reported.
French politicians benefited from trips financed by Russia
According to their source close to the investigation, the investigation targets Thierry Mariani, who co-chairs the association since 2012, and Yves Pozzo di Borgo, a former centrist senator, member of the association and president of a consulting firm. The two preliminary investigations, which are still ongoing, were opened on September 29, 2021, following a report from Tracfin, the financial intelligence unit of the French government, in May 2021, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The investigations, entrusted to the Central Anti-Corruption Office, “will have the primary objective of determining the reality of the facts reported,” the same source said. According to Le Monde, Mariani and Pozzo di Borgo have benefited from trips financed by Russia and, according to a source close to the case, the courts are seeking to know to what extent these gifts could have served as a counterpart to positions taken in favor of Russia.
The association Franco-Russian Dialogue was created in 2004 under the patronage of Presidents Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin. It presents itself as “a privileged instrument of communication between the political, economic and cultural circles of the two countries” and aims to “contribute to the deepening of strategic relations and the privileged partnership between France and Russia”.
Search in the premises of Franco-Russian Dialogue
Contacted by AFP, Thierry Mariani said “to have discovered through the press the existence of these investigations”. He noted that “the report of Tracfin had occurred a month before the regional elections” in which he was a candidate and that it was “a year and a half” that investigations were conducted without notifying him.
Mr. Mariani mentioned a “search” in the premises of the association, but, he said, the investigators were interested in the “director”. Thierry Mariani also said that the accounts of the association were “transparent and controlled”. “I have never received any payment” from Franco-Russian Dialogue and “I do not hold any shares in a Russian company,” he continued.
Who is Thierry Mariani?
Thierry Mariani is a French politician serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2019 elected on the list of the far right Rassemblement National (RN) (former National Front) without joining the party. From 1976, Mariani held several offices in the towns of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. He was a member of the French Parliament between 1993 and 2017, as well as Secretary of State and then Minister for Transport from 2010 to 2012.
Illegal visits to Crimea and observer in phony referendums in Donbas
He illegally visited Crimea as part of a pro-Russian French delegation in 2017. He was part of the politically biased election observation missions, an observer at the illegitimate 2018 elections in the so-called DPR, pro-Russian separatist region in Donbas.
Mariani has openly acted as a mouthpiece for Russia on the Crimea question. He criticized ‘Europe’ for calling Crimea occupied territory and claiming that it was “the will of the Crimean people in 2014 to join Russia”.