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In The News

Putinist oligarch arrested in London

NCA officers raiding oligarch Fridman’s London home two days ago.

Mikhail Fridman – one of London’s leading Russian oligarchs – was arrested at one of his two London homes on Thursday by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell. British press reports have avoided naming Fridman.

According to an NCA statement, Fridman – a close ally of Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin – was arrested “on suspicion of offences including money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury”. A 35-year-old man was arrested in the vicinity after being observed leaving Fridman’s home with a bag containing a large amount of cash.

Later on Thursday, the former boyfriend of Fridman’s current partner was arrested at his home in Pimlico, “for offences including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud”.

(above left to right) Sir Len Blavatnik, Tony Blair’s favourite oligarch; Mikhail Fridman, arrested two days ago in London by the NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell; Lord Browne, then chairman of BP; and Viktor Vekselberg, Blavatnik’s business partner, whose yacht was seized in April this year by Spain’s Guardia Civil and US federal agents.

The NCA’s Director-General Graeme Biggar said: “The NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, only established this year, is having significant success investigating potential criminal activity by oligarchs, the professional service providers that support and enable them and those linked to the Russian regime.
“We will continue to use all the powers and tactics available to us to disrupt this threat.”

Mikhail Fridman was born in Lviv but now holds joint Russian and Israeli citizenship. He began to build his Alfa business empire in his early 20s, in partnership with two fellow Jews – German Khan and Petr Aven – and is best known for his co-ownership of the controversial Alfa Bank and associated companies.

Since 2017 Fridman and his partners have been involved in several legal actions against the former MI6 officer Chris Steele, whose dossier alleged that they had corrupt dealings with Putin and Donald Trump.

Mikhail Fridman (third from right) standing between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky at a presentation of the Genesis Prize, which Fridman sponsors. Also in photo (second left) is Fridman’s business partner Petr Aven.

Fridman co-founded the Russian Jewish Congress and has been a major donor to Zionist causes including the European Jewish Fund and ‘Holocaust’ education projects. His Genesis Philanthropy Group sponsors an annual prize for “Jewish contributions to humanity”.

Fridman’s two London homes are 25 Cavendish Close, St John’s Wood (close to Lord’s cricket ground), and Athlone House, a mansion in Highgate, North London, that was used as an RAF Intelligence base during the Second World War. For many years pre-war it was owned by Sir Robert Waley Cohen, one of the leaders of the Anglo-Jewish community.

In 2018 Fridman addressed a Chabad “Living Torah” event in London’s exclusive Belgravia district, where he described the Torah as the “backbone” of key concepts pioneered by Judaism, including “the precedence of good over evil and the power to choose between them using free will’. No doubt following his arrest he will be given plenty of time to explain these concepts to the Combatting Kleptocracy Cell of London’s National Crime Agency.

Mikhail Fridman (above centre) addressing a Chabad event in Belgravia, London, alongside American Jewish tycoon Matthew Bronfman
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