National ***embly: François Fillon heard on his links with Russia


François Fillon is back in the National ***embly. The former Prime Minister (2007-2012) is heard…

National ***embly: François Fillon heard on his links with Russia

National ***embly: François Fillon heard on his links with Russia

François Fillon is back in the National ***embly. The former Prime Minister (2007-2012) is heard from 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday on his links with Russia and his presence for a time on two boards of directors of Russian multinationals. This return of the former deputy of Sarthe comes almost a year, to within a few days, after his conviction on appeal in the case of the fictitious jobs of his wife Pénélope to four years’ imprisonment, including one year, a fine of 375,000 euros and ten years of ineligibility. The couple have announced their intention to appeal.

The former Republican candidate for the 2017 presidential election will appear before the commission of inquiry initiated by the National Rally (RN) and devoted to “political, economic and financial interference by foreign powers”. This commission, which has been working for several weeks and must complete its work in early June, is controversial in the ***embly: the other camps reproach the far right for a strategy of “diversion” in the face of accusations of proximity between the RN and the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian presidency.

He defended Moscow’s position at the start of the war against Ukraine

Since his defeat in 2017, François Fillon has converted to the private sector and has notably sat on the boards of directors of the Russian companies Sibur (petrochemicals) and Zarubeshneft (hydrocarbons). On February 24, 2022, at the very moment when the Russian army invaded Ukraine, the former head of government drew strong criticism after having deplored “the refusal of Westerners” to hear the claims of Moscow, the Russian capital, concerning NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The next day, he announced his resignation from his Russian mandates.

François Fillon joined the board of directors of Sibur in December 2021, notably controlled by Leonid Mikhelson, one of the richest men in Russia, and Gennadi Timtchenko, a close ***ociate of President Vladimir Putin targeted by sanctions. A few months earlier, in June 2021, he joined the same body at Zarubezhneft, owned by the Russian state.

The hearing of François Fillon in the ***embly takes place while the national financial prosecutor’s office has also opened a preliminary investigation into suspicions of corruption of a foreign public official targeting Cifal, a French trading company operating in Russia. According to a source familiar with the matter, Cifal was commissioned by the Congolese company Orion (directed by Lucien Ebata, special adviser to the President of Congo-Brazzaville, Denis S***ou Nguesso) to find an investor in Russia to sell its shares in the MBK oil field to. in Congo. With this in mind, the leader of Cifal, Gilles Rémy, called on François Fillon to put him in touch with a Russian businessman. In this contract, François Fillon was remunerated as a business contributor. No suspicion of corruption currently weighs on him, said this source familiar with the matter.

A commission launched by the RN on the background of the Putin-Le Pen meeting

Some suspect the RN’s launch of the Foreign Interference Inquiry Commission was to try to cut short accusations that the far-right party was an agent of Russian influence in France. Jean-Philippe Tanguy (RN) is the chairman; MP Renaissance and ex-LR Constance Le Grip is the rapporteur. Several politicians have already been heard, including François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy but also the RN MEP Thierry Mariani, targeted for his part by two preliminary investigations into possible acts of corruption and influence peddling with a Franco-Russian ***ociation. For Constance Le Grip, “the most salient point” of this commission, “it remains the strategy of influence and interference between Russia and the FN, which has become RN, with the meeting of Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin”, the seat of the Russian presidency, before the presidential election of 2017. “We are not fooled by the strategy” of diversion of the RN in this commission, she underlines.

On Thursday, former RN MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser will be heard on the Russian loan of 9.4 million euros granted to Marine Le Pen’s party in 2014. He is the subject of an investigation by the national financial prosecutor’s office on commissions that he would have received for obtaining this loan and the conditions under which the party obtained, in 2017, from a French businessman very established in Africa, Laurent Foucher, another loan of 8 million euros .

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