Alexandre Benalla, the disgraced ex-bodyguard of the French president, has been placed in custody over accusations that he was linked to a security contract with a Russian oligarch, signed by an associate.
On Tuesday, Benalla and his wife were taken into custody on suspicion of corruption, as part of an investigation into security contracts with a Russian billionaire businessman, according to French media.
Security sources told AFP that Benalla was detained by anti-corruption police as part of a probe into the dealings of his former associate, Vincent Crase.
Former policeman Crase, who ran the security operations of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! party, also signed a security contract with Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov. Crase has insisted the contract covered the provision of security for Makhmudov and his children in France and Monaco.
Benalla denied having anything to do with the contract when he was interviewed by a parliamentary committee in 2018.
French investigators are now probing possible money laundering and corruption linked to the contract, as well as any role Benalla may have had in it.
According to French media, authorities are investigating whether Benalla used his position at the Élysée Palace to secure the contract with Makhmudov.
Mediapart, a French investigative website, claimed in December 2019 that the Makhmudov contract was worth 294,000 euros ($333,000).
Benalla, a 30-year-old former nightclub bouncer, has become somewhat of an embarrassment to the Macron administration, having been found guilty this year of assaulting two young demonstrators during an anti-capitalist demonstration in 2018.