Russian Billionaire Alexei Kuzmichev Detained By French Police In Tax And Sanctions Probe

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Russian oligarch Alexei Kuzmichev has been detained in France on suspicion of tax fraud, money laundering and violating sanctions, according to news reports, after French authorities froze two of the billionaire’s yachts last year as part of sanctions over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

France’s Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF) on Tuesday said Kuzmichev was detained Monday morning for questioning over alleged tax evasion, money laundering and violating international sanctions, Reuters and Politico reported.

The billionaire, who the European Union considers to be one of the most influential people in Russia with “well established ties” to Putin, has not been charged but remained in custody on Tuesday, Reuters added.

PNF said various places linked to Kuzmichev were searched as part of the operation, including the oligarch’s mansion in Paris, Le Monde reported.

An anonymous source told AFP Kuzmichev was apprehended in the Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez and his villa there was also searched, according to Le Monde.

The statement from PNF confirms earlier reports that Kuzmichev had been detained on Monday.

Kuzmichev’s lawyer declined to comment to Reuters, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would be able to provide assistance through diplomatic channels once Paris provides more information on the case.

Kuzmichev was targeted by U.K. and EU sanctions in 2022 over his ties to Russian leadership following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. He was sanctioned by the U.S. a year later as part of a government effort to “hold accountable those who enable and profit from Russia’s war against Ukraine,” a gambit that has ensnared other well-connected Russian billionaires. France had previously targeted two yachts owned by Kuzmichev, which were frozen by authorities in March 2022, though the oligarch prevailed in court due to procedural errors made during their seizure, leading a court to release both yachts. The victory is largely symbolic, Bloomberg reported, as Kuzmichev is unlikely to be able to move the boats as they are both still targeted by the EU’s freeze.

$6.4 billion. That’s Kuzmichev’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real-time tracker. Kuzmichev cofounded Alfa Group, which includes Russia’s largest private bank Alfa Bank and LetterOne, alongside Mikhail Fridman and German Khan, who are respectively worth $12.7 billion and $8.2 billion.

Russian oligarch Kuzmichev detained in France in laundering, sanctions probe (Reuters)

Four Russian Billionaires Sanctioned By U.S. For Allegedly Enabling Ukraine Invasion (Forbes)

UPDATE: Gibraltar And France Freeze Three Yachts Owned By Sanctioned Russian Billionaires (Forbes)

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