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21st Jun 2021

French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy

  • Luxembourg, a financial services hub, is one of EU's smallest states (Photo: Jimmy Reu)

French police have arrested a former Luxembourg spy chief, who was suing EUobserver for criminal libel, in an unrelated US fraud case.

Police in the French region of Audun-le-Tiche, on the Franco-Luxembourgish border, detained Frank Schneider on 29 April on an international arrest warrant issued by a court in New York, according to French local newspaper Le Républican Lorrain.

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  • A French SWAT team intercepted Frank Schneider as he was returning to Luxembourg from France (Photo: chd.lu)

His arrest involved special police from France's Brigade de recherche et d'intervention, a SWAT-type unit, the Paris-based website Intelligence Online added.

Schneider is a former chief of operations in Luxembourg's intelligence agency, the Service de Renseignement de l'État Luxembourgeois (SREL).

He is currently being held in the French town of Nancy pending a US extradition request.

His arrest came in connection with a US probe into a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme by the firm OneCoin, worth over $4bn [€3.3bn] - the largest such form of fraud in history.

OneCoin had hired Schneider's private-investigator firm, Sandstone, back in 2015.

And Sandstone, in turn, hired a British PR firm, Chelgate, to lobby on OneCoin's behalf in London for over £40,000 (€46,500) a month, according to an ex-Chelgate employee who spoke to a BBC documentary on the case.

Schneider, in 2019, had also sued EUobserver for criminal libel in Luxembourg and threatened to do so in Belgium, in what leading NGOs called a malicious attack on free press.

He did so after this website reported he had worked with Chelgate to spread disinformation about Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who was murdered in 2017.

But a Luxembourg court threw out his case.

Schneider left the SREL in 2008.

He was also involved in an illegal wiretapping case prior to his departure from the service, which led to the fall from office of then Luxembourg prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, before Juncker subsequently became European Commission president.

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