Sylvie Goulard, faces a probe covering suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard would be leaving her post as one of the institution's deputy governors on December 5.
In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard would be leaving her post as one of the institution's deputy governors on December 5. (AP Archive)

French prosecutors have said that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Friday's announcement comes after graft-fighting group Anticor filed a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor's office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard  — a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 — would be leaving her post as one of the institution's deputy governors on December 5.

She wished to "return to the foreign ministry" where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard said that her departure had "nothing to do with the investigation".

"Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened," the source said.

READ MORE: Why are French ministers resigning en masse?

Suspected fake jobs

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting $10,530 per month at current rates (10,000 euros) working as a "special adviser" to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had "no relation of any kind with the business activities" of the group's founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included "reflection, moderating groups, organising meetings".

Her lawyer declined to respond on Friday.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

READ MORE: Macron reshuffles cabinet after scandal-tainted allies resign

Source: AFP