The UK is no longer investigating two of the three initial allegations against Mikhail Fridman four months after arresting the sanctions-hit Russian oligarch at his London mansion.
The National Crime Agency, which commissioned more than 50 officers to raid fridmannThe multi-million pound north London house in December stopped investigating the 58-year-old businessman on suspicion of conspiring to defraud the Home Office and conspiring to commit perjury, according to people with knowledge of the decision. The agency was still investigating alleged money laundering offences, they said.
The two parties are also in dispute over the warrant used for the raid, according to one of the people.
An NCA spokesman confirmed that the agency was no longer pursuing the aforementioned lines of inquiry against a wealthy 58-year-old Russian individual detained in a London raid in December, without specifically naming Fridman, whose arrest has been widely reported. The agency declined to comment further on the order. Fridman declined to comment for this story.
The narrowed scope of the NCA’s investigation into Fridman is a setback for the agency’s new anti-kleptocracy cell, which was set up to target corrupt elites and Kremlin-linked individuals laundering their assets in the UK following the invasion of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ukraine.
Fridman was on a video call with his business associates when NCA officers broke into his home to arrest him in December, according to a person with knowledge of the raid. The allegations dismissed by the NCA relate to evidence Fridman gave in support of his girlfriend’s immigration application to the UK, the person added.
The NCA also arrested another person familiar with the Russian businessman’s girlfriend on suspicion of crimes including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud, the agency revealed in its December statement.
A 35-year-old man was also arrested “on suspicion of money laundering and obstruction of an NCA officer after he was seen leaving [the Russian businessman’s] address with a bag containing thousands of pounds in cash,” according to the agency’s statement.
Fridman, who was born in Ukraine, made his fortune in banking, retail, oil and telecommunications in Russia before moving to London in 2015. He was one of the richest men in the UK until Western sanctions for the war in Ukraine froze their assets and limited their access to funds.
Since then, the oligarch has lived at Athlone House, his mansion in Highgate, north London, and has filed a legal challenge against UK and EU sanctions. Fridman, who wants to remain in the UK, believes the claims are an attempt to force him to return to Russia, according to people close to him. Fridman’s expenses are limited to an allowance of around £2,000 a month under the sanctions.
Your business partners Petr Aven — whose home the NCA raided last May as part of an investigation into possible sanctions evasion — and German Khan have left the country, according to people close to them.