Business

Russian billionaire Petr Aven has used property management firms as a personal ‘piggyback’ UK authorities say

Authorities said Petr Aven did not have a bank account.

Instead, he used his wife’s account and the accounts of other real estate management firms, as a personal “piggyback” to support his lifestyle, the Crime Agency attorney said. National Crime Agency (NCA), a British law enforcement agency, told Bloomberg Tuesday.

The Russian tycoon is under investigation for allegedly transferring nearly £3.7m from an Austrian trust into the UK hours before Europe imposed sanctions on him following the scandal. Russia’s Invasion into Ukraine at the end of february. British authorities are now accusing Aven of using his companies’ money for personal spending, without having his own personal bank account.

Kleptocracy unit, one new group in NCA created to monitor sanctioned Russian oligarchs, said it was notified of last-minute transfers by Monzo Bank and HSBC Holdings. Authorities eventually froze £1.5 million of billionaire-related funds, Bloomberg reported.

Aven says the transfer is intended to pay for things like security at his Surrey mansion and properties in London, Bloomberg reported.

Aven is worth $4.98 billion, each Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

In a lower court hearing, a judge relaxed some restrictions on Aven’s estate account, allowing him to pay for “basic needs”. Attorneys representing Aven’s real estate firms allege that the NCA is looking for criminals in the money transfer by forcing it to penalize evasion. Lawyers for Aven’s firms are now challenging the decision to keep his account frozen in London High Court, Bloomberg reported.

Adrian Waterman, an attorney for Aven’s household management firms, told Bloomberg on Tuesday that the NCA painted a “chaotic reality picture.”

Waterman did not return immediately Fortune’s Request comments.
Aven, along with his business partner, Mikhail Fridman, made a significant amount of his fortune from oil-related investments, especially after sell shares in TNK-BP to the state-owned Rosneft in 2013. The duo also built a banking and financial services empire in Russia. They serve on the boards of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank, and Luxembourg-based investment firm LetterOne, step down from their directorial roles a few days after they were sanctioned.

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