Sanctions against Petr Aven, the former head of the board of directors of Alfa-Bank, Britain introduced on March 15. After the assets were blocked, the businessman, who was in London, said that he did not know how to survive further .jpg” alt=”Bloomberg found out that Aven was being checked for circumvention of British sanctions” />
The British authorities are conducting an investigation on suspicion of businessman Petr Aven circumventing the sanctions imposed against him. This was reported by Bloomberg, citing sources.
A RBC source familiar with the course of the investigation clarified that this was specifically about checking compliance with sanctions restrictions, a criminal case was not initiated against Aven.
“The UK is checking whether the Russian billionaire violated the sanctions regime, this may be the first such check <…>. Authorities raided Aven's home in England last week and are scrutinizing his money transfers to Britain since <…> 24 February. In September, he is scheduled to be interviewed in connection with these transfers and what they were spent on,— the agency quotes interlocutors, whose names are not disclosed due to the fact that the circumstances are of a private nature.
The publication notes that Aven refused to comment, the lawyer representing Aven in London did not return calls asking for comment. Representative of Alfa Group declined to comment on RBC. The UK's National Serious Crime Agency (NCA) said it never confirms or denies any investigations.
However, according to one Bloomberg source, approximately 30 authorities” searched Aven's house and seized £30,000 (or about $37,700) in cash. At the same time, no charges were brought against anyone for any violations.
The publication also writes that part of the funds from Aven's accounts was transferred to the property management company where the businessman lives and was used to pay current bills. “An audit is also being conducted to determine whether a British citizen employed by the company contributed to the breach of sanctions,” — notes Bloomberg.
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Great Britain announced sanctions against Aven and the founder of Alfa Group Mikhail Fridman March 15. The sanctions include the freezing of all assets and funds in the United Kingdom and a ban on entry into the country. Persons subject to such restrictions must obtain a special license from the Financial Sanctions Enforcement Authority under the UK Treasury for spending money.
Bloomberg, citing a source, reports that Aven has such a license has not, and states that the businessman, who also holds Latvian citizenship and a US visa, has not left the UK since he was placed on the sanctions list. At the same time, it is noted that the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Aven's fortunes at $5.3 billion.
As a rule, the British authorities limit the monthly amount that a person on the sanctions lists can spend at around £ 2.5 thousand, which can be enough to provide a basic standard of living in the absence of a large number of dependents, special needs or a significant amount of property, requiring high utility bills or taxes.
The British Financial Times previously reported that days before European banks suspended cross-border payments in and out of Russia, Aven’s wife spent “considerable time on an urgent mission: traveling between ATMs and withdrawing as much cash as possible to prepare for approaching».
Britain imposed sanctions on Aven and Friedman, accusing the entrepreneurs of “benefiting or supporting the Russian government.” Also, according to the British government, they are “connected” or “are close associates of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” and, “consequently, they are connected with a person who is involved in the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine and the threat to its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.”
After the announcement of the sanctions, Aven and Fridman left from the board of directors of Alfa-Bank, but promised to challenge the decisions of the EU and British authorities on inclusion in the sanctions lists.
Forbes reported on May 25 that Aven and Fridman filed lawsuits challenging the sanctions with the European Court of General Jurisdiction. Aven filed an application to initiate proceedings on May 23, Fridman's application was registered on May 24.
At the end of March, both businessmen living in Britain complained about the hardships of life under sanctions. Aven said that he did not know if he had enough money to pay at least the most necessary bills. “Could I afford to [pay for] a cleaning lady or a driver? I don't drive myself… Maybe my stepdaughter will. We don't understand how to survive,»— The businessman quoted the Financial Times.
According to the newspaper, Aven at that time wanted to stay in Britain, his wife and child lived with him. An entrepreneur in Britain owns a two-level apartment in the prestigious London district of St. James, as well as a mansion in the suburbs.
Friedman, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper Pais, compared life under sanctions to house arrest. According to him, the authorities in Britain, where he lives, must allocate a certain amount so that he can ride a taxi or buy food, but these funds are extremely limited compared to the cost of living in London. The businessman is also not sure that this money will be enough to live “normally, without excess.”
“I can't even invite me to a restaurant. I have to eat at home and am practically under house arrest,— Friedman said, noting that he did not know whether he would live in London or have to leave, which he did not want “for many reasons.”
At the same time, on April 14, the British Daily Mail reported that Friedman was noticed in an expensive London restaurant C London, whose guests are the Beckhams and the former head of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone, in the company of a companion. An eyewitness in a conversation with the publication explained that the woman with whom he had dinner could pay for Friedman.
In total, since the end of February, Britain has added more than a thousand individuals and more than 100 companies from Russia to the sanctions lists. Violating or circumventing sanctions may, under certain circumstances, be considered a criminal offense in the UK, in particular if it can be proven that the defendant knew or had “reasonable grounds to believe” that he was violating the sanctions regime. The UK Treasury has the power to impose fines for violations of sanctions, and the court can sentence the offender to imprisonment for up to seven years.
The EU imposed sanctions against Aven and Friedman on February 28.
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