BNP Paribas priced in money laundering investigation linked to Cyprus

It is a sensible case, which mobilizes the judicial authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. According to information from World, confirmed by the Paris prosecutor’s office, French justice opened a preliminary investigation, in June, for acts of “aggravated money laundering” targeting numerous suspicious financial flows which passed, between 2019 and 2021, through the company TCR International Limited, registered in Cyprus, while it was multiplying investment operations on behalf of its clients. TCR International then had a branch of the BNP Paribas group, BNP Paribas Securities Services, as its banking partner.

This legal procedure, followed by the National Jurisdiction for the Fight against Organized Crime (Junalco), a specialized interregional jurisdiction of the prosecution, was entrusted to the judicial investigations department of finance. “Over the period from 2019 to 2021, several hundred million euros and dollars would have circulated in the cash accounts of TCR International in France, corresponding to funds of possibly dubious origin and/or to flows without explicit economic logic. we indicate to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

According to our information, the amounts involved exceed 220 million euros. The question of the identity of customers is also at the heart of the procedure.

TCR International Limited is a brokerage firm that sells investment advisory services in the financial markets and manages funds internationally. Her clients are companies or individuals with particular wealth. However, from January 2019 to January 2022, BNP Paribas Securities Services provided this Cypriot entity with “securities custody” services – a service consisting of ensuring the custody of shares and bonds on behalf of institutional clients on Dedicated “cash or securities accounts”. Along with other major international banks, BNP Paribas is one of the world’s leading providers of this type of service.

An investigation into Prigozhin and the Wagner Group

It was within the framework of this contract that suspicious operations around TCR International attracted the attention of French justice, which is interested in the origin and destination of the funds. But the magistrates did not come across these transactions by chance. It all started with an investigation by the American federal justice system, which is interested in the financial circuits used by the Wagner Group and its former boss, Evgueni Prigojine, who died in the crash of his private jet in August. The Americans are seeking to identify financial intermediaries who could be involved in such transactions. In this context, their attention was focused on certain flows linked to TCR International and having passed through BNP Paribas Securities Services. An exercise made all the more complicated by the fact that shell companies may have been used.

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