These millions have become the principal source of funding for extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda, the newspaper said, repeating an argument made by David Cohen, US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in 2012.
The New York Times said former hostages and high level diplomats from various countries confirmed the figures on ransom payments.
Following the kidnapping of an entire French family in Cameroon last year France became the country with the most nationals being held hostage by terrorist groups around the world.
But since then various hostages have been freed, amid claims that huge ransoms were paid for their release.
With Lazarevic now released the French government can expect to be posed the same question once again.