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3 Dec, 2022 16:37

Russian tycoon Fridman arrested in London – TASS

The exiled billionaire was apprehended at his residence, a source told the news agency
Russian tycoon Fridman arrested in London – TASS

Officers from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested “a wealthy Russian businessman” at his home in London, the agency announced on Saturday. The raid was carried out by a task force set up specifically to target Russian-linked suspects.

More than 50 NCA agents had raided the 58-year-old man’s “multi-million-pound residence” on Thursday, law enforcement reported. He was apprehended and charged with money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury, and was released on bail, a statement from the agency read.

While the NCA did not reveal the man’s name, a source close to Alfa Group co-founder Mikhail Fridman told Russia’s TASS news agency that he “has been arrested by the police. But, according to our information, he has been released on bail so far.” 

Earlier, Alfa Bank’s press department told Kommersant that Fridman had “nothing to do with this story,” and “is at home, not under arrest.” Fridman himself told Forbes Russia that he is “fine,” and is spending the weekend “meeting friends.”

A 35-year-old man employed at the residence was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and obstruction, with the NCA stating that he was seen leaving the property “with a bag found to contain thousands of pounds in cash.”

A third man, who is described as the ex-boyfriend of the businessman’s partner, was arrested at his home in London’s Pimlico neighborhood, and charged with money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

The raid was carried out by officers from the NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, a unit set up by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February to target Russians allegedly evading British sanctions on Moscow. The unit is tasked with freezing the assets of sanctioned Russian businessmen, and seizing money and assets sent or received by them in defiance of the sanctions. 

While the NCA describes those targeted as “corrupt,” there is no evidence that any of the assets seized were considered illicit before the British government sanctioned more than 1,300 Russian individuals and entities in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

The NCA has carried out nearly 100 so-called “disruptions” against Russian “elites and their enablers” to date.

The Russian embassy in London has demanded that British authorities immediately explain the reasons and circumstances of the Russian businessman’s arrest.