PARIS (Reuters) – French prosecutors have opened an investigation into alleged “aggravated money laundering” related to transfers made by a Cypriot brokerage firm that worked with BNP Paribas’ custodian unit, French daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday, December 26.

The preliminary probe is focused on transfers worth several hundreds of millions of euros and dollars made by TCR International Limited between 2019 and 2021, Le Monde reported.

The Paris Prosecutor’s office confirmed to Reuters it had launched an investigation into suspicious transfers by TCR International Limited after the French finance ministry’s anti-money laundering unit, TRACFIN, issued an alert in May.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the transfers were of “possibly dubious origin and/or flows with no explicit economic logic.” It did not make reference to BNP Paribas.

TCR International Limited worked with BNP Paribas Security Services between 2019 and 2022, Le Monde reported.
Asked if it was aware of the investigation, BNP Paribas said it could not comment on its obligations. The bank said it had a global compliance system in place and was committed to meeting its regulatory obligations.
TCR International Limited did not respond to a request for comment.

The French daily reported that the French authorities’ interest in TCR International Limited stemmed from a probe by US investigators into former Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin died in a not very mysterious plane crash in August.

The prosecutor’s office did not publicly comment on a possible link between Prigozhin and the transfers made by TCR International Limited.

Aggravated money laundering is an offence punishable in France by 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 750,000 euros or half the value of the assets laundered.