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Prosecutors in Paris are investigating a Franco-Russian association, trying to find out whether the organization’s leaders, a French MEP and a former senator, received favors in exchange for promoting positions favorable to Moscow.

Two inspections are underway: one on suspicion of corruption and abuse of official authority, the other on facts of breach of trust and money laundering.

According to a source close to the investigation, European Union parliamentarian Thierry Mariani, a member of the far-right National Union who has co-chaired the suspected association since 2012, and Yves Pozza di Borgo, a former centrist member of the upper house. The Senate and a member of the association are at the center of investigations.

In accordance with Le Monde on a daily basis, Mariani and Pozza di Borgo enjoyed Russian-financed trips. The investigation will seek to establish to what extent these incentives may be related to the position taken in favor of Russia.

The “Franco-Russian Dialogue” association was established in 2004 under the patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his then French counterpart Jacques Chirac.

It presents itself as a “privileged instrument of communication between the political, economic and cultural circles of the two countries”, the purpose of which is “to contribute to the deepening of strategic relations and the privileged partnership between France and Russia”.

Preliminary investigations were launched following a tip from Tracfin, the financial intelligence unit of the French economy ministry.

Mariani told the French news agency AFP that he was “stunned” when he “discovered the existence of these investigations through the press”.

He said the association’s accounts were “transparent and audited” and that he had not received “any payments” from the group. “I don’t have shares in a Russian company,” he said.

Mariani added that the association “returned the keys to the premises” it occupied due to lack of contributions.

(From AFP)