A “very prominent” Ukrainian man was arrested earlier this month in a 12th century chateau near Dijon, where he had been living “a very lavish lifestyle” since fleeing Ukraine where he is wanted for involvement in a “complex case of international fraud and money laundering,” Europol announced on Tuesday.
The operation carried out by the Gendarmerie and the Border Police took place on 5 October “with the active support of Europol” and targeted a “high-ranking Ukrainian fugitive” as well as “three accomplices”, according to a press release by Europol. The investigators said they made seizures of 4.6 million euros, including a Rolls Royce Phantom, three works by Salvador Dali and a significant amount of jewellery.
While not being identified by the European law enforcement agency, a journalist in Ukraine told Radio Free Europe that the detainee was Dmytro Malinovskyy, a businessman from Odessa, wanted by local police since 2015 on charges of heavy fraud and falsification regarding the properties of the Ministry of Defense in the port city near the Black Sea.
It was the purchase of the castle, for three million euros by a Luxembourg company, whose final beneficiary was a Ukrainian citizen suspected of large-scale corruption, which attracted the attention of the gendarmerie. An inquiry was opened in January. The suspect had “managed to escape justice by producing falsified death certificates,” the statement said. The French, Luxembourg and Ukrainian authorities have established that the latter was “not only alive but leading a luxury lifestyle in France”.
“The case went from a case of national fraud to a case of international money laundering of the proceeds of corruption,” says Europol.
After being held in custody on suspicion of money laundering and forgery among other charges, the suspects were presented to an examining magistrate.
“Two men, Ukrainian and Moldovan, have been indicted and placed in custody,” the police said in a statement.
“Two women, also of Ukrainian and Moldovan nationality, have been indicted and placed under strict judicial control.”