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British drop criminal probe against Russian billionaire – Bloomberg

The UK National Crime Agency was investigating alleged sanctions evasion by London-based businessman Mikhail Fridman

FILE PHOTO: Russian businessman, co-founder of Alfa-Group Mikhail Fridman, Moscow, 2021 © Sputnik / Ilya Pitalev

The UK investigation into alleged sanctions evasion by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman has been dropped, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a spokesperson for Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The agency had been investigating Fridman, the founder of Russia’s biggest privately owned lender Alfa Bank, over an alleged loan payment from his bank to his executive assistant before he was sanctioned. The prosecutors accepted that the search warrant contained “technical errors.”

“The NCA can confirm that it will take no further action against Mikhail Fridman based on the warrant executed at Athlone House in December 2022,” the spokesperson told the news agency. “Inquiries are ongoing in relation to associated suspects who fall under the wider investigation.”

In December, the NCA publicized the raid across social media with a statement and a picture of officers inside the tycoon’s home.

READ MORE: Kiev brings more charges against UK-based billionaire

According to the agency, over 50 officers descended on Fridman’s mansion in north London and arrested the 59 year-old businessmen, removing “digital devices and a significant quantity of cash.”

In July, Fridman claimed during a court hearing that the raid was illegal and relied on “kompromat,” including a 15-year-old report that made a series of unproven criminal allegations.

In April, the Financial Times reported that the NCA had stopped investigating two out of the three allegations against Fridman. Probes for conspiracy to commit perjury and conspiracy to defraud the Home Office were dropped, but the 59-year-old banker was still under investigation for alleged money-laundering.

The billionaire, who lives in London, was sanctioned in Britain, the EU, and Canada last year. The US added his name to the sanctioned individuals list in 2023. Shortly after being blacklisted, Fridman, along with other founders of Alfa Group, resigned from the board of directors of the holding and announced plans to sell his stake in the company.

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