The former president of the Louvre museum has received preliminary charges for alleged antiquities trafficking during his tenure as head of the famous Paris museum.

Police in the French capital have charged Jean-Luc Martinez with “complicity in organised fraud” and money laundering, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office said that two of Mr Martinez’s former colleagues in the Louvre’s Egyptian antiquities department were also taken into custody this week but released without charges.

Jean-Luc Martinez
Jean-Luc Martinez stepped down last year as the Louvre’s president (Christophe Ena/AP)

The Paris prosecutor’s office would not confirm French media reports saying the three men were suspected of taking part in the trafficking of priceless heritage pieces.

According to Le Canard Enchaine newspaper, investigators were looking into whether Mr Martinez “turned a blind eye” to false certificates of provenance for five Egyptian antiquities.

The newspaper said the pieces included a granite Tutankhamun stele or slab sold in 2016 when the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a branch of the Paris museum, acquired several Egyptian antiquities for tens of millions of euros.

Mr Martinez stepped down last year as the Louvre’s president, a post he had held since 2013. He now serves as an ambassador for international co-operation in the field of heritage. The museum’s current president is Laurence de Cars.