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Russian oligarch Fridman served with notice of suspicion

Fridman is suspected of laundering $1.2m and €1.93m and intentionally evading UAH 18m in taxes.

Russian oligarch Fridman served with notice of suspicion
Mikhail Fridman

The Bureau of Economic Security has served a notice of suspicion to Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman. The case is related to Sense Bank, according to the websites of the Bureau of Economic Security and the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

"A notice of suspicion has been served to the Russian oligarch, a former beneficial owner of a Ukrainian bank that was among the top 5 in terms of equity in Ukraine," the agencies said.

Fridman is suspected of laundering $1.2m and €1.93m (in total, about UAH 100m in equivalent) and intentional tax evasion in the amount of UAH 18m by officials of the bank, which Ukraine nationalised in July 2023.

According to the investigation, the Russian oligarch withdrew the bank's assets under the guise of paying royalties for the use of trademarks previously owned by the parent bank in Russia. In 2021, the ownership of these trademarks was re-registered to a Cypriot non-resident to ensure the application of preferential taxation and the provisions of the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation.

"In this way, Fridman, together with other accomplices, ensured deliberate tax evasion in Ukraine by officials of the Ukrainian bank he owned when paying royalties to an offshore Cypriot company," the Prosecutor-General's Office said.

The investigation also resulted in the seizure of accounts of five Cypriot companies, which held funds totalling UAH 469.4m, securities worth UAH 12.2bn, corporate rights worth over UAH 3.4m, and 738 real estate properties owned by the bank.

Notices of suspicion were served to three executives of Cypriot companies on assistance in forgery and money laundering totalling UAH 169m, as well as to former executives of the Ukrainian bank on intentional tax evasion totalling over UAH 18m committed in the interests of the Russian oligarch.

The trial is ongoing on charges of a bank official for aiding and abetting the forgery of registration and other official and banking documents. In addition, an indictment and a motion for exemption from criminal liability due to the statute of limitations have been filed with the court against two Ukrainian citizens who were used as nominal directors of a private company involved in the Fridman money laundering scheme.

"Personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) have been imposed on the Russian oligarch, also by Western countries - Ukraine's strategic partners," the Prosecutor-General's Office recalled.

On 20 July, the National Bank of Ukraine decided to withdraw Sense Bank from the market due to sanctions against its owners and proposed that the government nationalise it. The next day, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed to buy the bank for UAH 1. On 22 July, Sense Bank officially became a state-owned bank, and on 24 July, new members of the management board and supervisory board were appointed.

On 24 July, the Prosecutor-General's Office said that the former owners of Sense Bank wanted to force it into bankruptcy and withdraw funds to Russia.

Fridman's Russian business cooperates with the Russian military and security forces fighting against Ukraine, provides the Russian army with uniforms, food, and organises rallies in its support, the Skhemy journalist project found out. Fridman, together with his business partners, owns AlfaStrakhovanie through the Alfa Group group of companies. The latter cooperates with the Russian Guard, providing it with insurance services for official vehicles.

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