A Russian billionaire who spoke out against Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has reportedly been arrested in London on suspicion of money laundering.
Businessman Mikhail Fridman – described as “an enabler of Putin’s inner circle” – is also said to be charged with conspiracy to defraud the Interior Ministry and conspiracy to commit perjury.
Britain’s National Crime Agency said a “wealthy Russian businessman” was arrested at his posh London mansion on Thursday.
He has now been identified by Russian state media as Mikhail Fridman, the founder of one of Moscow’s largest banks.
A source told TASS: “Fridman was arrested on suspicion of violating sanctions imposed on him.”
More than 50 officers descended on the multi-million pound estate as the oligarch was lured into a trap by the NCA.
Two others were also arrested, and the NCA – which Fridman did not name – said officers seized “a number of digital devices and a significant amount of cash”.
Fridman, who founded Russia’s largest private bank Alfa Bank, was hit by Western sanctions after Putin ordered Russia to invade Ukraine in February.
However, he spoke out against the war, calling it a “tragedy” for both sides, the Financial Times reported.
Fridman, 58, wrote in an email: “I am convinced that war can never be the answer.
“This crisis will take lives and harm two nations that have been brothers for hundreds of years.”
The EU imposed sanctions on Fridman – a British tax resident – in late February.
Fridman has been “characterized as a leading Russian financier and a forerunner of Putin’s inner circle.”
The billionaire resigned from Alfa Bank’s board after being hit by the sanctions.
Following his reported arrest, Fridman was questioned before being released on bail.
A 35-year-old man employed at the London home was also arrested nearby on suspicion of money laundering and obstructing an NCA officer after he was seen leaving the address with a bag containing himself thousands of pounds in cash.
A third man, 39, the former boyfriend of the businessman’s current partner, has been arrested at his home in Pimlico, London, for offenses including money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud.
They too were released on bail.
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the NCA, said: “The NCA’s cell to combat kleptocracy, established just this year, has had significant success in investigating potential criminal activity by oligarchs, the professional service providers who support and enable them, and individuals associated with the related to the Russian regime.
“We will continue to use all the forces and tactics at our disposal to stop this threat.”
The NCA said its operation is the latest in a series of failures in its work to disrupt the activities of corrupt international businessmen and their supporters.
To date, the NCA says it has secured nearly 100 “disruptions” — actions proven to eliminate or reduce a criminal threat — against Putin-aligned elites and their supporters.
The agency added that its work helped freeze accounts of people closely linked to sanctioned Russians.
The NCA said its investigations targeted numerous properties, eight yachts and four airplanes.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6836726/banker-putins-circle-arrested-money-laundering/ “Putin’s closest circle of bankers” arrested on suspicion of money laundering after speaking out against the war in Ukraine