On April 1, 2020, the Criminal division of the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) ruled that the French Financial Prosecutor’s Office (“PNF”) is competent to prosecute money laundering and misappropriation of public property offenses, even in cases where it does not have jurisdiction to prosecute the initial offense .
In the present case, an investigation was conducted by the PNF into the use by a former Russian minister and his wife of funds allegedly derived from the misappropriation of Russia’s public funds.
The investigation involved the seizure of a hotel located in France against which an appeal was lodged. The defendant challenged the PNF’s ratione materiae jurisdiction, before the criminal division of the Cour de Cassation, stating that the PNF was only created to ensure “”.
The Court recalled however, that the PNF was established to provide the French judicial organization with a highly specialized public prosecutor, whose jurisdiction would include the most complex cases of economic and financial delinquency. The PNF thereby has jurisdiction to prosecute complex facts, including, inter alia, cross-border cases, with multiple shell companies in countries deemed “tax havens”.