The property of the Russian oligarch was illegally searched
Alisher Usmanov, a Russian-Uzbek oligarch, is currently under investigation on suspicion of money laundering, but investigators are also looking around the rich man on suspicion of violating sanctions. In September 2022, employees of the German Federal Criminal Office (BKA) and the Tax Investigation Office searched several villas in Lake Tegernsee, but they also searched around an apartment near Frankfurt and the mega-yacht Dilbar in the port of Bremen. In addition to documents, investigators seized valuable artifacts.
However, the Frankfurt court has now found that the house searches conducted at Usmanov’s home did not raise any serious suspicions of money laundering. The Chamber also found serious deficiencies in the grounds for search warrants requested by the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office. Thus, this part of the investigation proved illegal.
German newspaper Der Spiegel according to his report For example, the documents did not explain in sufficient detail why exactly the investigators suspected Usmanov of money laundering. According to the court, the accusation that Usmanov’s billionaire fortune is based primarily on crimes committed in Russia was too hasty. More general references to shady business practices and offshore companies were not enough on their own.
The Frankfurt court also objected to the investigators’ heavy reliance on Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s YouTube videos. No other evidence of unfair business practices was provided. According to Usmanov’s defense lawyers, the decision strengthened their client’s confidence in the German rule of law. All charges were dropped.
Der Spiegel notes that despite the illegality, it is unlikely that the confiscated objects and property will be returned to the Russian oligarch, at least not in the near future.
As of 2022, Usmanov’s fortune is estimated at $19.5 billion, and he is among the 100 richest people in the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he made his fortune through mineral and mining activities and investments. Among other things, he is the co-owner of the second largest mobile phone provider in Russia and the owner of the Udokan copper company, which operates one of the largest copper deposits in the world.
On February 28, 2022, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the European Union blacklisted Usmanov, imposed an EU-wide travel ban on him, and froze all his assets. At that time, the billionaire spoke out sharply to the EU.
On February 28, she became the target of the European Union’s restrictive measures. I believe that the decision is unfair and that the reasons justifying the penalties consist of a combination of false and defamatory allegations that threaten my honor, dignity and business reputation. I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation. I hereby suspend the exercise of my position as President of the International Fencing Federation with immediate effect until justice is restored
– the man, who has dual citizenship of Russia and Uzbekistan, wrote in a statement. He is regularly referred to in official EU publications as a pro-Kremlin oligarchy with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs.