Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, 56, and his family are set to face a fresh probe in France, with a new team of prosecutors examining how his daughter came to own several luxury villas on the Riviera, and who the ultimate beneficiary is.
A Paris prosecution unit in charge of tackling organized crime known as Junalco is leading the investigation into the financial flows that enabled the acquisition by Gulnara Kerimova, 32, of the companies that own the four villas on the “Billionaire Bay” at Cap d’Antibes, according to people familiar with the matter. The ownership of the villas was the subject of a money laundering case opened several years ago in Nice, in southeastern France.
Junalco prosecutors are now drawing on a June report by France’s anti-money laundering body Tracfin, said the people. According to that document, Gulnara spent €268 million ($279 million) to take over the ownership structure, with funds provided for the most part by her brother Said, investigative news outlet Mediapart reported. In response to Bloomberg questions, Paris prosecutors confirmed that Junalco is taking the lead in investigating the Tracfin memo.
Nikita Sichov, an attorney representing Suleiman, Said and Gulnara, brushed aside any efforts to draw the family back under the French legal spotlight, suggesting that the change of ownership of the properties is well known to French authorities.
“The Tracfin report you refer to concerns a restructuring carried out in complete transparency with the competent bodies in order to comply with all the regulations in force,” Sichov said in response to Bloomberg questions.