Ukraine’s economic security agency charges Russian oligarch Fridman with money laundering

18 August, 06:34 PM
Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman (Photo:The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine)

Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman (Photo:The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine)

The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine (ESBU) has charged a Russian oligarch, who holds both Russian and Israeli citizenship, and was formerly the owner of a Ukrainian bank, with laundering approximately UAH 100 million ($2.7 million), the agency reported on August 18.

Although the ESBU does not explicitly mention the oligarch's name, the description and photo in the message suggest that the individual in question is Mikhail Fridman, the former owner of Alfa-Bank Ukraine (Sense Bank).

The Russian businessman is suspected of engaging in illegal money laundering involving $1.2 million and EUR 1.93 million (equivalent to approximately UAH 100 million), carried out by an organized group of individuals.

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Additionally, he is suspected of intentional tax evasion amounting to UAH 18 million ($492,225), orchestrated by bank officials through an organized group.

In early June, the ESBU seized 738 real estate assets, including apartments, shopping centers, land plots, and residential buildings, owned by the bank.

The oligarch's Ukrainian bank, its Russian parent bank, and an offshore company are all linked through common beneficial owners, according to the ESBU.

Prior to and during Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, the oligarch, along with his Russian associates, allegedly conducted illegal activities aimed at laundering assets worth over UAH 1 billion ($27.3 million) and subsequently withdrawing them from Ukraine's banking system.

This was apparently done to evade potential negative consequences, such as sanctions or forced property seizure.

The investigation is ongoing, with ESBU agents identifying the businessman's assets within Ukraine and in foreign jurisdictions.

In February 2022, the European Union imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Fridman was also sanctioned by Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council in September 2022.

On July 22, 2023, the Ukrainian government purchased 100% of Sense Bank shares from Fridman for UAH 1 and appointed Dmytro Kuzmin, the former chairman of the board of Universal Bank, as the new manager.

The National Bank of Ukraine initiated the nationalization of Sense Bank on July 20, 2023.

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