A billionaire behind a pro-Brexit think tank who has obtained a Maltese passport, has been accused in the House of Commons of being a suspected Russian agent with links to money-laundering.

Christopher Chandler was said to be an “object of interest” to the French, who suspected him of “working for the Russian intelligence services” The Times of London reported.

The accusation was made using parliamentary privilege by Bob Seely, a Conservative MP and member of the foreign affairs select committee. Mr Seely cited security files that he said were authenticated by French, UK and US sources.

Mr Seely called for an investigation. 

Another MP Liam Byrne (Labour), said there was a need for an investigation into money-laundering claims and the sale of passport in Malta. 

Mr Chandler, a New Zealand-born tycoon provides financial support to the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank with strong links to cabinet ministers, MPs, economists and campaigners who support a hard Brexit. 

The Financial Times had reported in January that Mr Chandler had obtained a Maltese passport. 

In March, Times of Malta reported how Mr Chandler had a Pilatus Bank account but was distancing himself from the bank, insisting he only used it to buy his Maltese passport.  

Following news reports on possible money-laundering activities at the Ta’ Xbiex bank, a spokesman for Mr Chandler had insisted that his only association with Pilatus was to acquire a Maltese passport.

The Guardian quoted Mr Seely saying that he and four other MPs had seen documents from Monaco’s security department. These “brief, terse, factual files” related to “national security and money laundering” and included information supplied by the DST intelligence agency, France’s equivalent of MI5.

The MP said senior French intelligence sources plus their British and American counterparts had “authenticated” their content. He added: “The documents indicated a link – a noted individual in this country – with Russian intelligence.”

The files dated from 2005 and covered a period from the mid-1990s, he said. They concerned “Christopher Chandler and his brother”, the MP said, adding that he was convinced the files were genuine. 

The Legatum denied the MP’s allegations, insisting Mr Chandler “has never been associated directly or indirectly with Russian intelligence or the Russian state”.

It added: “Neither Christopher Chandler nor anyone at Legatum is aware of any such alleged “investigation” by the French authorities, not 16 years ago or at any time since.

“To be clear Christopher Chandler has never been approached at any time by the French or any other authorities regarding Russia and maintains a sterling record of ethical business practices earned over many decades.”