In an interview with the British newspaper The Times, Russian businessman, co-owner of “Alfa Group” Mikhail Fridman told about the details of the search in his London mansion last December. He complained that in Britain he had lost the sense of “protection” and noted that he felt “humiliated” during the search, when he was detained for some time.
The day before, it became known that the British authorities had terminated the investigation against Friedman, who was suspected of evading sanctions. The businessman remains on the sanctions list of Great Britain, where he lives, as well as of the European Union.
As The Times notes, the investigation into Friedman was closed, including because the National Crime Agency of Great Britain recognized that the search of the businessman’s mansion in December 2022 was carried out in violation of the law.
About 50 representatives of law enforcement agencies, including armed ones, participated in the operation. The search began early in the morning. Friedman said that he was frightened by “screams, sirens, dozens of armed policemen in masks” who broke into his house. “When they put handcuffs on me and read the text of the warrant, I couldn’t believe my ears.”
Representatives of the National Crime Agency claimed that Friedman jumped out of the window and tried to escape, but the businessman’s lawyers insist that he himself went to the police with his hands raised.
During the investigation, Friedman’s lawyers pointed out a number of violations, in particular, the judge indicated the wrong date in the search warrant, and the text of the accusation against the businessman was partially taken from materials available on the Internet, dating back to 2008 and not related to sanctions in any way. As a result, the authorities came to the conclusion that the search was conducted in violation of the law, and Friedman has the right to compensation. The investigation itself against Friedman was also terminated. In an interview with The Times, the businessman nevertheless said that he fears that officials “may want to put this arrogant Russian oligarch (that is, himself, Friedman – RS) in his place, especially if it corresponds to political matters and public sentiment. It seems to be rich Russians, without exception, are already considered a crime”.
At the same time, Friedman complained that he had moved to Britain because he could feel safe there, but now he “felt humiliated and unprotected” in this country.
- Mikhail Fridman is a native of Lviv. The businessman and other founders of Alfa Bank soon after the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine fell under the sanctions of the European Union and Great Britain. In August, Friedman came under US sanctions.
- The British authorities allowed Friedman, despite the sanctions, to use certain monthly amounts from his frozen accounts for “necessary expenses.” Thanks to this, he can support his house in London and his staff.
- Kyiv accuses Fridman of financing the war. The Security Service of Ukraine claims that the structures under the billionaire’s control are engaged in the material support of the Russian group. The Ukrainian authorities nationalized Sense Bank, which belonged to Fridman. In an interview with The Times, Friedman stated that he had not broken the law “in any country in the world.”
- Shortly after the start of the war, Friedman called Russia’s war with Ukraine a tragedy in a letter to the employees of the London office. He did not publicly condemn the war. When asked directly about this by the Ukrainian journalist Mykhailo Tkach, Fridman said that his lawyers forbade him to speak.
- A number of Russian oppositionists and public figures – some publicly, some privately – called on the EU and UK authorities to lift sanctions against Friedman and his business partner Peter Aven. Alexei Navalny’s associate Leonid Volkov later admitted that his requests were a mistake.