Samvel Karapetyan

France Impounds Suspected Gazprom-linked Luxury Villa


PARIS (AFP) — France has impounded a luxurious villa suspected of belonging to Russian energy giant Gazprom as part of a money-laundering investigation, Paris prosecutors said on February 19.

Estimated at around 120 million euros ($132 million), Villa Maria Irina — previously known as Villa del Mare — is one of the most opulent mansions on the French Riviera.

The French daily Le Monde said it was the French authorities’ biggest haul since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led the West to slap multiple rounds of sanctions against Moscow.

According to prosecutors, a Russian-Armenian tycoon, Samvel Karapetyan, who bought the villa in 2010, is believed to have acted in Gazprom’s interests.

“There is evidence that suggests that successive acquisition plans for the villa were carried out in the name of various companies, whose indirect ownership would amount to making Gazprom the effective beneficiary,” the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The villa and the shares in its ownership company were seized on February 12.

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