By Shweta Desai
PARIS (AA) - French President Emmanuel Macron’s former security chief Alexandre Benalla was placed under police custody on Tuesday for questioning in a case of corruption and money laundering involving Russian billionaires.
Benalla, who is already under detention at his home in Paris on charges of violence against civilians and misuse of diplomatic passports, was arrested along with his wife by the economic crime investigators, La Chaîne Info news reported.
The National Financial Prosecutor's Office has accused him of signing security contracts and receiving commission from Russian oligarchs.
In June 2018 while serving at the office of the French presidency, Benalla allegedly provided protection to billionaire Iskander Makhmudov’s family and real estate in France and Monaco, via a security company, Mars, owned by Vincent Crase, a former police official and security manager of Macron’s La République en Marche party.
French news Mediapart’s 2019 investigation reported that the contract was worth 294,000 euros. The second contract also involves another billionaire Russian businessman Farkhad Akhmedov, to whom Benalla provided consultancy for 353,000 euros through an advisory company set up in Morocco after he was fired from the Elysee.
Both businessmen are suspected to have links with the Russian mafia.
Once regarded as a close confidant of Macron, Benalla has courted several controversies. He is accused in multiple cases involving corruption, assault, forgery and misuse of diplomatic passports.