Institute for European Integrity: Watchlist Investigation
The third sector is a central pillar of European democracy. The voices of third sector representatives (NGOs, foundations, and educational institutions) are considered by government officials when justifying policy positions and determining how resources and political capital are spent. Europe’s third sector faces a severe crisis of credibility, due to the corruption of NGOs by oligarchic and kleptocratic wealth as well as by networks of illicit or malign finance or influence.
The NGO Watchlist identifies suspicious NGOs and investigates their funders and links to government influence. The criteria for being watchlisted is having deep involvement with or funding from an individual or entity that has been sanctioned or criminally prosecuted (Russia-invoked sanctions are excluded). Additionally, a separate category of watchlisted NGOs includes those with strong links to individuals with criminal allegations leveled by a European, EU, US, or UK government authority.
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ASSOCIATION DIALOGUE FRANCO-RUSSE
Last updated: 31/10/2022
The Association Dialogue Franco-Russe, otherwise known as Franco-Russe Dialogue (FRD), was founded in 2004 as a joint political venture between the respective Presidents of Russia and France, Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac; notably, the former has been sanctioned by the United States while the latter was found to be guilty on charges of corruption.
FRD’s original cast of characters were registered with the Association of Accredited Public Policy Advocates to the European Union (AALEP) and can be found on an earlier version of their website; however, for unknown reasons, some members with checkered pasts have been removed from the organization’s website. By no means an exhaustive list, FRD’s organizational portfolio ranges from: 1: sanctioned senior leadership including, but not limited to, Putin and Yakunin; 2: working closely with a sanctioned diplomacy fund; and 3: to their copresident–who doubles as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP)–previously playing the role of “observer” for internationally condemned elections.
Three notable FRD figures are worthy of mention: Vladimir Yakunin, Bernard Lozé, and Thierry Mariani. Having served as the Honorary President of FRD until at least February 2022, Vladimir Yakunin possesses a unique resume that consists of being former KGB, a sanctioned oligarch, and a currently-serving trustee for the EU-sanctioned Russian Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund. Although deceased as of October 2021, Bernard Lozé was billed as a pioneer of “alternative management” of hedge funds, former director of the now defunct oil giant Yukos, and was owner of two companies: Lozé et Associés and Alternative Leaders. Alternative Leaders has previously worked with the now-sanctioned Gazprombank via the Kaltchuga Capital Management subsidiary in Russia. During Mr. Loze’s tenure as one of the directors, Omega Trust Umbrella PLC transferred $23.5 million dollars to a Russian-Cypriot company the U.S. believes, according to leaked FinCen files, could be connected to notorious gangster Semeion Mogilevich (a/k/a “The Brainy Don”).
In addition to fulfilling his duties as an MEP, Thierry Mariani serves as copresident of FRD as well as having occupied, until 2018, a seat on the “ethics committee” of the Kremlin-funded media outlet Russia Today (RT); in addition to being forced by the United States to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), RT was sanctioned by the EU. Previously, Mr. Mariani co-chaired an advisory council of CFG Capital with Alexander Torshin, another individual that has been sanctioned and possesses links to organized crime via an intermediary: Alexander Romanov. Moreover, CFG Capital engaged in a joint economic investment fund with Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev’s Marshall Capital; both Malofeev and Marshall have been under US sanctions since 2014. And in the summer of 2016, he led a group of 11 MEPs to visit Crimea, a territory illegally annexed by Russia; furthermore, this visit was condemned by both Ukrainian and French foreign ministries.
Nonprofit organizations, directly or indirectly, engaged in the laundering of money, reputations, narratives or criminal activity morally corrode the nonprofit space; moreover, any third sector organization (NGO) engaged in such practices can serve as a vehicle or vector for weaponized kleptocracy to undermine western institutions. Open-source signatures indicate the founders, associated leadership, and its direct as well as indirect activities warrant FRD’s designation as a high-risk NGO. Therefore, Association Dialogue Franco-Russe has been placed onto the Institute for European Integrity’s NGO watchlist.