The UK is no longer investigating two of the three initial allegations against Mikhail Fridman four months after arresting the sanctioned Russian oligarch at his London mansion.
The National Crime Agency, which tasked over 50 officers to raid Fridman’s multimillion home in north London in December, has stopped probing the 58-year-old businessman on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury, according to people with knowledge of the decision. The agency is still investigating suspected money laundering offences, they said.
The two sides are also in dispute over the warrant used for the raid, according to one of the people.
A NCA spokesperson confirmed the agency was no longer pursuing the said lines of inquiry against a wealthy 58-year-old Russian individual detained in a raid in London in December, without specifically naming Fridman, whose arrest has been widely reported. The agency declined to comment further on the warrant. Fridman declined to comment for this story.
The reduced scope of the NCA’s investigation into Fridman is a setback to 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 in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fridman was on a video call with his business partners when the NCA officers burst into his home to arrest him, according to one person with knowledge of the raid. The allegations dropped by the NCA related to evidence Fridman gave in support of his girlfriend’s UK immigration application, the person added.
The NCA also arrested another person acquainted with the Russian businessman’s girlfriend on suspicion of offences 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 found to contain thousands of pounds in cash,” according to the agency’s statement.
Ukraine-born Fridman, who made his fortune in banking, retail, oil, and telecoms in Russia before moving to London in 2015, was one of the UK’s richest men until western sanctions over the war in Ukraine froze his assets and limited his access to funds.
Since then, the oligarch has lived in Athlone House, his mansion in Highgate, north London, mounting 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 spending is limited to an allowance of about £2,000 a month under the sanctions.
His 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.