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6 Oct, 2023 17:22

Ukraine seizes assets worth $463 million from tycoons

Kiev has gone after three Russian bankers associated with the Alfa Group
Ukraine seizes assets worth $463 million from tycoons

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on Friday that it had seized all the assets of Russian bankers Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and Andrey Kosogov. The property, worth an estimated 17 billion hryvnia ($463 million), will be transferred to the Ukrainian state.

According to the SBU, “all corporate rights” of the three “Russian oligarchs” have been seized, including financial and insurance companies, telecommunications and IT companies, as well as at least one mineral water factory.

Aven and Fridman were among the founders of Alfa Bank, Russia’s biggest privately owned lender. Fridman and Aven were sanctioned by the UK, the EU and Canada last year, and by the US in August this year, even though they tried to divest of their stake in Alfa.

Kosogov co-founded the investment firm LetterOne and sat on the board of Alfa’s subsidiary in Ukraine before chairing its telecom subsidiary Altimo.

In August, the SBU accused Fridman of a scheme to siphon 700 million hryvnia (almost $19 million) out of Ukraine. The following month, they alleged the businessman had invested some $20 million into endeavors associated with the Russian military.

The Ukraine-born Fridman made his fortune in Russia. He became a UK resident in 2015 and relocated there shortly after the Ukraine conflict escalated in February 2022, insisting he had no ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Fridman complained last month that “being a wealthy Russian (in the UK) is considered a crime,” after the government in London dropped the criminal investigation into him over alleged sanctions evasion. He also called the sanctions against him and his business associates unjust and inappropriate.

Laws enacted by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky allow Kiev to nationalize banks belonging to sanctioned individuals. Alfa Bank’s Ukrainian subsidiary was seized in December 2022 and rebranded as Sense Bank.