A Brussels private foundation has called on the French Council of State to annul its decree granting French citizenship to former Russian oligarch Sergei Pugachev, AFP reported. The arguments for this call are that he may have acquired this nationality illegally in 2009.
The International Foundation for Better Governance filed a request to that effect in November last year. AFP has received a copy from him. The text claims that at the time of his naturalization, Pugachev, who had just bought the French luxury food company Ediar, had not lived in France permanently or for the past five years. He did not speak French, nor was he assimilated into the French community in the country. And these are all criteria for granting citizenship in most cases, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
In an interview with Marian in February 2019, the businessman, who lives near Nice, highlighted his ties to France. “I feel at home here. I settled here with my family in 1994, after a few years in the United States. My parents are buried here, my sister lives here, my eldest sons grew up here, and my five grandchildren were born here. “he says.
According to the foundation, which is now challenging Pugachev’s French citizenship, it has allowed him to leave the UK illegally, where he has been the subject of a lawsuit over the fraudulent bankruptcy of his Interprombank bank.
Pugachev is a former Russian senator from Siberia. He was once known as the “Kremlin banker” during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency. He then fell into disfavor and was declared wanted by the Russian authorities for financial fraud. He left the country in 2011. Russian authorities demanded and received from the British authorities in 2014 that Pugachev’s assets be frozen and banned from leaving British territory.
In 2016, London’s Supreme Court sentenced Pugachev to two years in prison for hiding some of his assets and leaving the country despite the ban, as he did in 2015 thanks to his French passport obtained in 2009.
Pugachev was the owner of the French company Ediar from 2007 to 2014, and his son Alexander was the owner of France Soire from 2009 to 2012. Pugachev claims that he was deprived of all his business empire in Russia and was forced to sell it for a pittance to Russian state-owned companies. According to him, an investigation was launched in France in 2014.