Sanctions on Russian oligarchs begin to bear fruit in France


It was the first battle won in the long and delicate economic and judicial war the West waged against supporters of the Russian regime: the first criminal seizure by the French judiciary of the villa of a sanctioned Russian oligarch. This luxury residence in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (Alpes-Maritimes) was confiscated in October 2022 at the request of the magistrate of the National Jurisdiction (Junalco), responsible for combating organized crime, with an estimated value of 23 million euros According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, world. Viktor Rachnikov, majority owner of one of Russia’s largest steel producers, is suspected owner.

Since Mr. Rachnikov was sanctioned on March 15, 2022, three real estates officially linked to him, on the Côte d’Azur and in Paris, have been administratively frozen.The villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is no longer known because she is not “Not declared to the tax authorities as his property”, according to sources familiar with the matter; it belongs to a Swiss company that is itself owned by a Panamanian institution. Tracfin was informed of the sale of the villa, which occurred shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Behind the complex arrangement, the French financial intelligence service learned, the villa belonged to a Russian citizen, a suspected spokesman for Viktor Rachnikov, and the new owner was also Russian. Tracfin then immediately froze the sale at the notary – €17 million net of duties and taxes – before going to court.

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The Junalco Magistrate, who inherited the document, found it complex “Suspicious Transaction” doomed “Beneficial owners who concealed the source and operation of funds”. The villa and proceeds from the sale are now in the hands of the Department of Justice’s Seizure and Forfeiture Asset Management and Recovery Agency. If convicted by a court, they could be permanently confiscated by the state.

long-term investigative work

The Rachnikov file is not an isolated case.Based on information from worldSince the invasion of Ukraine, the French judiciary has launched at least 17 investigations into Russian businessmen suspected of money laundering. Four have opened since early 2023, proving that this investigative work is a long-term one.

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