Alexandre Benalla and his wife were placed in police custody on Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into suspicions of “corruption and money laundering” around a security contract signed between the Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov and his former acolyte Vincent Crase, report several French media this afternoon.
They were picked up this morning at their home by the Economic Crime Repression Brigade (BRDE). French justice accuses the former deputy chief of staff of the Elysee Palace for a security contract signed with a close friend of Vladimir Poutin when Alexandre Benalla was working with Emmanuel Macron. Alexandre Benalla was sentenced last November for violence committed during the demonstration on May 1, 2018.
He is currently being questioned by the Economic Crime Repression Brigade (BRDE), and is heard on a rogatory commission from the judge who is investigating the security contract signed by his sidekick Vincent Crase and a Russian oligarch, Iskander Makhmudov, billionaire at the head of an industrial empire in Russia as part of a preliminary investigation by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).
In this context, and for the investigators, it seems likely that Alexandre Benalla, friend of Vincent Crase, negotiated this market, even though he was one of Emmanuel Macron’s collaborators. An investigation had already targeted the Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov in France. Justice immediately closed the case. But revelations in the Benalla affair later prompted the reopening of the investigations. The PNF’s investigation relates in particular to a security contract between Vincent Crase’s Mars company and Iskander Makhmudov.
The former gendarme Vincent Crase, also sentenced for the violence of the 1er-May, had been briefly placed in police custody in this case in December 2019. The contract with Mars, provided for the safety and support of the children of the oligarch, schooled in Monaco, as well as the safety and accompanying Makhmudov when he came to France. Something he never did during the three months of this contract. Iskander Makhmudov would have paid 294,000 euros for this contract, of which a little more than half – 172,200 euros – was transferred to the accounts of Velours company belonging to Alexandre Benalla.
The latter, before the senatorial commission of inquiry into the violence committed on 1er May 2018, had assured that he had not taken part in the negotiation of this contract. Vincent Crase, a former reservist officer of the gendarmerie, for his part had ruled out any irregularity in this contract.
It all started in 2016 when a Russian environmentalist alerted the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) of the actions of this controversial businessman, Iskander Makhmudov, who made his fortune in the 1990s after the dismantling of the USSR. This “report” leads to a preliminary investigation, which is closed the following year. Owner of several properties in France, the oligarch had previously been the subject of an investigation in Spain on suspicion of belonging to a powerful criminal organization. But the file was sent to Russia in 2011 and was the object of a classification without continuation, according to the public prosecutor of Madrid.