Former oligarch Pugachev’s French nationality was disputed before the Council of State

In its request filed in November 2021, of which AFP obtained a copy, the International Foundation for Better Governance (IFBG, International Foundation for Better Governance) confirmed that at the time of its naturalization which had recently purchased Heddiard’s French flagship Delicatessen. “Has not lived in France either habitually or for five years”.

He “did not speak French” and “was not assimilated in any way to the French community”, with exceptions, the necessary criteria, to obtain French nationality, she asserts.

“All allegations and rumors on this subject are baseless,” replied AFP, Sergei Pugachev, Anne-Jessica Faure’s lawyer. While the billionaire has been waging a legal standoff with Moscow for years, the lawyer sees the approach as an attempt by the Russian authorities to “damage his honour.”

A date for the hearing at the Conseil d’Etat has not yet been set.

In support of its request, the IFBG cited two interviews given to French channels in 2016 in which Sergei Pugachev speaks in English. He claims that his children were “raised in Russia and the UK”, and during a procedure in the UK his ex-wife said that the couple “lived mainly in Moscow between 1990 and 2011”.

“To date, only the Russian Federation has challenged Mr. Pugachev’s French nationality”, the 59-year-old billionaire’s lawyer replied, noting that the IFBG is “a lobby that clearly serves the interests of the Russian Federation and the oligarchs”. Still working.” for governance”.

Former “Kremlin Banker”

In an interview published by Marianne in February 2019, the businessman who lives near Nice highlighted his relationship with France: “I feel at home here. I moved to the United States with my family in 1994 after a few years Went there. My parents are buried here, my sister lives there, my eldest sons grew up there and my five grandchildren were born there.”

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The IFBG presents itself as a foundation “aimed at protecting the rights of entrepreneurs in Europe and especially in the countries of Eastern Europe”. In her request, she states that if Mr. Pugachev acquired French nationality by “fraud”, it would allow other “Russian entrepreneurs (…) to do business in France, settle there and, one day, loyally acquire his nationality.” willing to do”. ,

She also believes that this French passport allowed the oligarch to “illegally leave the United Kingdom”, where her bank Mazprombank was being prosecuted on suspicion of fraudulent bankruptcy.

“Sergei Pugachev made his fortune illegally, was tried in Great Britain because he is suspected of robbing the customers of his bank, and is now enjoying his fortune in France”, argued one porter. gave. The term IFBG to AFP.

According to the organization, the Ministry of the Interior did not send “a statement of defense” to the State Council within time and therefore it should be regarded “as being familiar with the facts set forth in the request”, namely “fraudulent” naturalization published on 2 December 2009. The nature of the decree”.

When contacted by AFP, the home ministry said it would not comment.

Former senator from Siberia, nicknamed the “banker of the Kremlin” headed by Boris Yeltsin before falling into disgrace, Sergei Pugachev is wanted in Russia for “fraud” and “embezzlement”. He left the country for good in 2011.

The Russian Agency for Deposit Insurance (ADA), the liquidator of the assets of Mezprombank, obtained from the British Justice in 2014 the freezing of its assets and the ban on leaving the territory.

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In 2016, the High Court in London sentenced him to two years in prison for hiding some of his assets and leaving the United Kingdom in June 2015, according to a ruling seen by AFP.

Hediard’s former boss (from 2007 to 2014), whose son Alexandre was the boss of the daily France-Soir (2009–2012), claims that his industrial empire in Russia was “snatched away”, forcing him to sell it. it was done. State Enterprises.

He has been under judicial investigation in France since 2014 following his complaint for “extortion” and “fraud”.

The Madrid arbitration court, before which it claimed $12 billion from Russia, on the other hand declared itself incompetent in June 2020. Sergei Pugachev appealed this decision.

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