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Ukraine launches criminal case against UK-based tycoon

Kiev has reportedly accused billionaire Mikhail Fridman of siphoning millions out of the country via an offshore scheme

Ukraine’s national police has issued a “notice of suspicion” to a “sanctioned Russian oligarch and the owner of Alfa Bank,” the force announced on Friday. While the law enforcement agency did not explicitly name the person concerned, it was apparently referring to UK-based billionaire Mikhail Fridman. 

The tycoon is suspected of siphoning over 700 million hryvnia (nearly $19 million) out of the country, the police said in a statement. Fridman is suspected of committing multiple criminal offenses, including money laundering, tax evasion, and forgery of documents.

Fridman allegedly set up various illegal schemes to transfer funds out of Ukraine offshore, including to Cyprus, according to the national police. The schemes involved payouts of disproportionately large royalties for trademarks, it noted. The police force said it has issued “notices of suspicion” to eight other individuals linked to Alfa Bank and allegedly involved in the money laundering schemes. Amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Alfa Bank’s assets in Ukraine were seized by the authorities and ended up being nationalized.


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Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven
US sanctions London-based tycoons

Last week, the US placed sanctions on Fridman, along with other individuals associated with the Alfa Group Consortium that runs Russia’s largest private lender, Alfa Bank, over the Ukraine conflict. Apart from Fridman, the new restrictions affected Pyotr Aven, German Khan and Alexey Kuzmichev, as well as the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) lobby group. 

Thus far, all four had been spared US sanctions, although they had been targeted with restrictions in the UK, EU, as well as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

The Ukraine-born Fridman made his fortune in Russia investing in banking, retail, oil and other areas. He acquired UK residency in 2015 and relocated there shortly after the conflict in Ukraine escalated in February 2022, insisting he had no ties to President Vladimir Putin. The move, nonetheless, did not spare him from sanctions or a probe by Britain’s National Crime Agency.


August 20, 2023 at 02:22AM

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