According to official information published on the company's website, the CIFAL company was founded in France in 1946 by the engineer Pierre Detoeuf and at first the company worked with the countries of Latin America. The abbreviation "CIFAL" stands for "La Compagnie d'Ingenierie France-Amerique latine" (Engineering Company France - Latin America). In the 1950s, the CIFAL company reoriented to work in the USSR.
Judging by the archival biographical information collected by researcher Denis Glasson, Pierre Deteuf became the head of CIFAL only in 1955. Pierre Deteuf's father - Albert Auguste Prudent Deteuf - since 1928 was the executive director and vice-president of the large French engineering concern "Alstom". At the same time, Pierre Deteuf, while studying at the Lyceum in the late 1920s, became interested in communist ideas. After the Second World War, Pierre Deteuf was actively involved in the trade union movement. Only in 1948 did he get involved in commercial activities, and immediately with the countries of the Soviet bloc (and not Latin America), working for a company based in Romania and the Federal Republic of Germany. It was only in 1955 that Pierre Deteuf became the head of CIFAL, at the same time participating in the creation of the Great Franco-Soviet Commission to organize trade between France and the USSR. At the same time, according to Glasson, the abbreviation "CIFAL" stands for "Comptoir Industriel France Alimentaire". That is, there was no mention of Latin America in the name, but the name indicated that the company's activities were related to food.
Former Minister of the Meat and Dairy Industry of the RSFSR (1970-1986) Vasily Semenovich Konarygin mentions in his memoirs that the CIFAL company took part in the creation of large dairy factories in the USSR. According to Vasily Konarygin, the owner of the CIFAL company was the French Count Roland de la Poip, who was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1944. There is no information about this on the official website of the company. Perhaps Vasily Konarygin confused something over the years, but his version is supported by the fact that the father of the French Hero of the USSR was an agricultural engineer, which is quite consistent with the profile of the CIFAL company in the USSR. Although Xavier de la Poippe died in 1940, Roland could continue his father's work after the end of World War II.
Count Roland Paulze d'Ivoy de la Poype, after the surrender of France during the Second World War, continued to fight against Germany as part of the British Air Force. In 1942, he began to fight Germany already on the side of the USSR as part of the Normandy squadron, which consisted of the French. The initial composition of the squadron was extremely small (14 people) and consisted largely of the children of emigrants from Russia. It is not known what made the young hereditary aristocrat, whose ancestor fought against Russia during the Napoleonic wars, to come under the command of Soviet military leaders. Maybe republican spirit. On the part of the USSR, the creation of the squadron was probably exclusively a PR move: the British released only young inexperienced pilots who did not represent a significant combat force. Subsequently, on the basis of the "Normandy" squadron, the "Normandie-Niemen" air regiment was created.
According to most sources, after the end of the Second World War, Roland de la Poip continued to serve in the French Air Force, demobilized in 1947, after which he took up business. It was mentioned that the Count invented plastic disposable shampoo bags that L'Oreal introduced into production, proposed to Citroen the idea of a beach car with a plastic body, and created the Marineland Marine Zoo.
Roland de la Poip became the chairman of the Normandie-Niemen association and visited the USSR several times along with other veterans of the air regiment. According to Vasily Konarygin's version, during these visits the order-bearing count always visited the enterprises that were created in the USSR with the participation of the CIFAL company.
In the early 1970s, CIFAL began to take an active part in cooperation between France and the USSR in the field of nuclear energy. In 1972-1973, TENEX (USSR) entered into an agreement with CIFAL on uranium enrichment in the Sverdlovsk Region. The first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU (the actual leader of the Sverdlovsk region) at that time was Yakov Petrovich Ryabov, who later became the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, in charge of the military-industrial complex of the USSR. Already retired, in the 1990s and 2000s, Yakov Ryabov was an advisor to the president of the Centrocommers International group of firms, which included the CIFAL firm.
The cooperation of the CIFAL company with the USSR in the field of the defense industry was not officially announced. This is not surprising given the fact that France was part of the camp of capitalist countries that were in a state of cold war with the USSR. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out that CIFAL was closely associated with the group of the Soviet elite that controlled the military-industrial complex.
Recall that the first owner of the CIFAL firm was probably Count Roland de la Poip, who acquired connections in the USSR armed forces during the Second World War. CIFAL was founded in 1946, almost immediately after the end of the Second World War, when the Comte de la Poip returned to his homeland. The work of CIFAL in Latin America in the late 1940s is in deep doubt. Perhaps the CIFAL business was originally built on cooperation with the countries of the Soviet camp.
Thierry Volton, author of The KGB in France, claims that CIFAL was founded by members of the French Communist Party, which, in turn, was significantly influenced by the military intelligence of the USSR at that time.
The following considerations can be cited as an unconfirmed version of the connection of Count Roland de la Poip with Soviet military intelligence. The first group of 12 French volunteers, which included the Comte de la Poippe and on the basis of which the Normandy squadron was formed, was recruited in Great Britain, where at that time General Charles de Gaulle was leading the Free France movement. It was reported that one of the first who responded to de Gaulle's call from London to organize French resistance to Hitlerite Germany was a French officer of Russian origin Zinovy Alekseevich Peshkov - the godson of the writer Maxim Gorky (Alexei Maksimovich Peshkov) and the brother of one of the former leaders of the Bolshevik party Yakov Sverdlov. At the birth of Zinovy Peshkov, the name was Sverdlov Zalman Movshevich. Zinovy Peshkov was called one of de Gaulle's closest associates in Great Britain. It was reported that Peshkov successfully raised funds to organize the struggle against Germany in South Africa, for which he was promoted to general by de Gaulle. Data that Peshkov took part in the creation of the escadril "Normandy" could not be found, just as it was not possible to find data on the acquaintance of Roland de la Poipa with Zinovy Peshkov. However, the likelihood that Peshkov played a significant role in the fact that Charles de Gaulle saw an ally in the USSR in the fight against Germany is quite high, which makes it possible for Peshkov to participate in the organization of the Normandie exadrille. The lack of mention of this may be a consequence of the position of Soviet historiography, which, as much as possible, hushed up the fact of the existence of the brother of the eminent Bolshevik in the ranks of the enemies of the young Soviet state during the civil war.
Information was published that the "Entente mercenary" Zinovy Peshkov allegedly successfully worked for Soviet intelligence, but it was not reported exactly how. In this regard, it should be noted that an anti-fascist news agency "Inpress" existed in Paris since 1933, under the leadership of a former member of the Comintern Hungarian Sandor Rado. In 1935, Rado was recruited by Soviet military intelligence, and during the Second World War he led one of the groups that supplied valuable information about Germany to Soviet intelligence. According to Sandor Rado in the 1930s, only a French citizen could be the executive editor of any publication in France, and Rado “offered the writer Renaud de Jouvenelgo, a scion of an aristocratic family, the son of a senator, then French ambassador to Vatican ". According to reports, no de Jouvenelgo was the French ambassador to the Vatican at that time. The French ambassador to the Vatican was Francois Charles-Roux. One of his children, indeed, was a writer, only not a son, but a daughter - Edmond Charles-Roux (Edmonde Charles-Roux), who later took an active part in the activities of the French Resistance movement. Incidentally, Edmond's brother Jean-Marie Charles-Roux was right-wing and sympathetic to Germany, which is in line with the recollections of Sandor Rado. Thus, it is likely that Edmond Charles-Roux was encrypted under the name Renault de Jouvenelgo. The personality of Edmond Charles-Roux in this case is of interest, since she was a close friend of Zinovy Peshkov, in some sources it was even stated that they were lovers. And this, in turn, may indicate a connection between Zinovy Peshkov and Soviet intelligence.
The personality of Zinovy Peshkov is quite contradictory. Already in the 1930s, Peshkov should not have felt any sympathy for the USSR. Not only did Peshkov support the White Guard movement during the civil war in Russia, in the 1930s all his relatives were repressed in the USSR, who played at least some (some very considerable) importance in the Soviet authorities. It was rumored that on the orders of Joseph Stalin, Peshkov's godfather, the writer Maxim Gorky, was poisoned. And nevertheless, Zinovy Peshkov could provide assistance to Soviet intelligence, guided by some political considerations. Most biographical sources indicate that Zinovy Peshkov owed his diplomatic successes in the service of France to a good knowledge of a number of languages and outstanding personal qualities. Some researchers, in particular, Peter Multatuli, argued that Zinovy Peshkov was associated with Masonic organizations even before the revolution in Russia. Perhaps, attempts to hide these connections, and some of the contradictions in the biography of Zinovy Peshkov are explained. For example, it is argued that Peshkov was begging in the United States in the early 1900s, while his brother Benjamin ran a commercial bank in the United States. According to Petra Multatuli's version, in fact, Peshkov at that time was raising funds in the United States for the revolution in Russia. Zinovy Peshkov was wounded during the First World War, fighting as part of the French Foreign Legion, and only after receiving French citizenship, Peshkov somehow miraculously met the Secretary General of the French Foreign Ministry and immediately went on a diplomatic mission to the United States, which he performed extremely successfully ... Such unlikely events point to some undisclosed personal connections of Zinovy Peshkov, the nature of which is still difficult to determine. Maybe belonging to some secret organization, or maybe family ties, which for Jews are much more important than, say, for Russians. If Zinovy Peshkov was associated with a certain organization that helped its member to successfully carry out diplomatic missions around the world (USA, Russia, Great Britain, China, Japan) and this organization decided to help the USSR with intelligence in the fight against Nazi Germany, then Zinovy Peshkov could well have provided assistance military intelligence of the USSR, despite his personal attitude to the Bolshevik regime.
Thus, Roland de la Poip could decide to fight on the side of the USSR under the influence of Zinovy Peshkov, who in turn could have connections with Soviet military intelligence. After the end of the Second World War, de la Poip could actually head the Soviet-French joint venture "CIFAL", which was probably created with Soviet money allocated to the French Communist Party, could use Zinovy Peshkov's connections in French business circles, supplied the USSR with scarce products or created new industries there, using Western technologies, and the income received could be spent on the needs of the French Communist Party and Soviet military intelligence, or in the personal interests of party bosses and intelligence officers, as well as those who could be behind Zinovy Peshkov. Let us repeat that all this is just a hypothesis based on a number of assumptions, the correctness of which may be highly questionable.
In the 1970s, CIFAL began to play the role of an intermediary between French nuclear energy enterprises and the USSR Ministry of Medium Machine Building, which oversaw the USSR's nuclear industry. Minsredmash in the USSR has always been closely associated with the military-industrial complex and the head of this ministry, Slavsky Efim Pavlovich, presumably, was closely incorporated into one of the elite groups of the military-industrial complex, which included the above-mentioned party curator of the military-industrial complex Yakov Ryabov. Perhaps the CIFAL company began to play the role of an intermediary between France and the USSR in the nuclear industry due to the close ties of the Soviet elite group with the leadership of the CIFAL company.
It is difficult to say what role the CIFAL company played for the leaders of the military-industrial complex of the USSR. Perhaps this role was minimal and boiled down only to the fact that, due to their acquaintance with the top officials of the company, it was easier for Soviet leaders to operate abroad through the CIFAL company. It is highly unlikely that CIFAL could have been used for any illegal Soviet intelligence operations, since CIFAL's connection with the USSR was clear. It is not excluded that the company "CIFAL" could be used by the leaders of the military-industrial complex to place the "left" income received from the arms trade abroad under the "roof" of a company formally independent from the state bodies of the USSR. Such businesses are often set up by intelligence agencies to operate overseas. Sometimes these enterprises fall out of the control of state bodies and either allow intelligence to operate freely, without waiting for the approval of a clumsy bureaucratic apparatus, or become a tool for the personal enrichment of unscrupulous security officials.
In 1995, Gilles Remy became President - General Director of the CIFAL group of companies, whose work since 1985 has been associated with the USSR. Gilles Remy married Nadezhda Selyanina, the daughter of the Soviet journalist TASS. According to official information, Gilles Rémy is the main shareholder of CIFAL.
It was reported that CIFAL is part of the Centrocommerce International group of companies. The same group of companies included the SORIS company, which was mentioned together with the CIFAL company in connection with the activities of the French Communist Party.
As of 2000, CIFAL was implementing large infrastructure projects in Tatarstan, Ingushetia and the Sverdlovsk region, diverse industrial facilities in Tomsk, Chelyabinsk, Angarsk, Krasnoyarsk. CIFAL was a co-founder of the Tsentro-Ural joint venture. Probably, on the basis of this joint venture in 1996, LLC "Tsentro-Ural Trade" was created in the town of Trekhgorny, Chelyabinsk region. The backbone enterprise of Trekhgorny is a nuclear weapons plant, and one of the priority areas of the CIFAL company was work with nuclear materials.
Despite the expansion of the geographical boundaries of CIFAL's work to China, the Middle East and Latin America, declared in the 2000s, the work of CIFAL in the countries of the former USSR remains a priority area of the company's work, judging by the fact that almost all top management of the company besides French and English, he also speaks Russian.
Date of information update: 2016.