The owner of the Alfa Group Consortium, Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, was detained in London on Thursday, TASS reported, citing a source close to Fridman who claimed: “Fridman was detained on suspicion of violating sanctions imposed on him.”
But according to the UK National Crime Agency, Fridman was detained on suspicions of money laundering. The Jewish billionaire was arrested at his multimillion-dollar London home.
The NCA issued a statement on Saturday, saying it conducted a major operation to arrest a “wealthy Russian businessman” on suspicion of offenses including money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office, and conspiracy to commit perjury.
“The 58-year-old man was arrested on Thursday, December 1, at his multi-million-pound residence in London by officers from the NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell. A 35-year-old man, employed at the premises, was arrested nearby on suspicion of money laundering and obstruction of an NCA Officer after he was seen leaving the address with a bag found to contain thousands of pounds in cash. A third man, aged 39, who is the former boyfriend of the businessman’s current partner, was arrested at his home in Pimlico, London, for offenses including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
“More than 50 officers were involved in the operation at the businessman’s London property. A number of digital devices and a significant quantity of cash was recovered following extensive searches by NCA investigators.”
Mikhail Fridman, 58, was reported by Forbes to be the seventh-richest Russian in 2017. In August 2022, Fridman had a net worth of $11.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. On February 28, 2022, the European Union blacklisted Fridman and had all his assets frozen as part of a package of sanctions imposed on Russian officials and oligarchs in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fridman said he was against the invasion and warned the war would “damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years.” He called for the “bloodshed to end.”
In October 2022, Fridman offered to transfer $1 billion of his personal wealth into a Ukrainian bank that he co-founded. Officials said he was hoping to persuade the UK to lift the sanctions against him. Fridman denied that the offer was a quid pro quo.