Uncovering the Complex Ties between Société Générale and Russian Oligarch Boris Rotenberg.

Société Générale, one of the largest banks in France, has been implicated in a scandal involving Russian oligarch Boris Rotenberg and his offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands. For years, Société Générale’s Monaco subsidiary provided top-quality services to Rotenberg, including account management, investment in financial products, and bank loans. However, the relationship came to an abrupt end after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) consortium and international media have conducted a collaborative investigation, dubbed the “Rotenberg Files,” which obtained over 50,000 emails and internal documents exchanged between 2013 and 2020. These documents reveal a web of financial transactions that raise serious questions about the bank’s due diligence and compliance procedures.

One of the most troubling aspects of the relationship between Société Générale and Rotenberg is the apparent lack of concern for the source of his wealth. Rotenberg, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been sanctioned by the US and EU for his alleged involvement in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.

According to the “Rotenberg Files,” Société Générale continued to do business with Rotenberg and his offshore companies even after the sanctions were imposed. The bank allegedly helped Rotenberg transfer millions of euros to his French property holdings, which are now the subject of a judicial inquiry by the Paris public prosecutor’s office.

The investigation into Société Générale’s role in the Rotenberg affair is a reminder that offshore finance is still a murky world, where the lines between legal and illegal activities are often blurred. The “Rotenberg Files” highlight the importance of investigative journalism in holding those involved in financial wrongdoing accountable.

The OCCRP consortium and its partners have done an excellent job of shining a light on the shadowy world of offshore finance and exposing the complicity of banks like Société Générale in facilitating the activities of wealthy individuals with questionable sources of wealth.

The scandal also underscores the need for greater transparency and accountability in the global financial system. Banks and other financial institutions must do more to ensure that they are not unwittingly facilitating money laundering, tax evasion, and other illegal activities.

In the case of Société Générale, the bank has a lot of explaining to do. The judicial inquiry into the bank’s role in the Rotenberg affair will undoubtedly shed more light on the bank’s compliance procedures and due diligence practices.

For now, the “Rotenberg Files” stand as a stark reminder that the world of offshore finance is still a murky and opaque one, where the wealthy and powerful can operate with relative impunity. But with investigative journalism and judicial oversight, there is hope that the truth will eventually prevail, and those involved in financial wrongdoing will be held accountable.

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