Ukraine opened criminal probe against Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, indicating that it may seek his extradition from the UK.
(Bloomberg) — Ukraine opened criminal probe against Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, indicating that it may seek his extradition from the UK.
The Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office issued a “notice of suspicion” of fraud against an unidentified Russian tycoon who owned a Ukrainian bank, according to a Friday statement.
ABH Holdings SA, through which Fridman controls his assets with partners, denied the allegations, saying that Ukraine’s claim “contains deliberately false accusations” of its minority shareholder. Fridman has never been a member of the governing bodies of Sense Bank and never was involved in its operations, it said.
Fridman, who holds Israel and Russian passports, is the founder and main shareholder of Alfa Group, which includes Russia’s largest private bank, that owned a unit. Fridman declined to comment.
He moved to London in 2013 after he and his partners sold their stake in TNK-BP to state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, pocketing $14 billion. The EU and the UK imposed sanctions on Fridman and his partners soon after the invasion began last February. He has remained in London, living under the restrictions. He was sanctioned by the US earlier this month.
Ukraine completed nationalization of Sense Bank JSC, that was owned by Fridman and a partners in July.
The tycoon is suspected of organizing a criminal group, that was involved in fraud, forging documents, withdrawing assets from Ukraine, tax evasion, according to the prosecutors’ statement. The move by Ukraine may indicate that it may seek the tycoon’s extradition.
The tycoon “is outside Ukraine, so law enforcement officers are taking measures within the framework of international cooperation,” according to the statement.
Ukraine and the UK have bilateral mutual legal assistance agreement that enables co-operation between countries on criminal matters.
Should an extradition fight between Fridman and Ukraine ensue then the English courts offer plenty of opportunities for the Russian to appeal and stay in the UK until those are exhausted. A process that can take years.
The news about Fridman came as another Russian billionaire Eugene Shvidler on Friday lost a bid to challenge the UK’s sanction regime, the first to be scrutinized by a British judge since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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