Russia says to seize exiled oligarch's foreign assets

12th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Thursday said it had obtained a seizure order for foreign assets of exiled billionaire Sergei Pugachev, which includes several properties in France.

Among the assets belonging to Pugachev, who was once known as "Putin's banker" for his close ties to the Kremlin, are a 47-metre (155-foot) yacht flying a Cayman Islands flag and several properties on the French Riviera.

They also include a chateau in Nice and a chalet in the French Alps, according to a statement from a Russian agency that handles bankruptcy proceedings.

Once one of Russia's richest men who presided over a multi-billion-dollar shipping empire, Pugachev fled to Britain in 2011 after falling out of favour with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A former senator from the Tuva region of southern Siberia, Pugachev built an empire in Russia until his disgrace which began with the 2010 collapse of his International Industrial Bank (known as Mezhprombank in Russian).

He stands accused of fraudulent bankruptcy and is wanted by the Russian authorities on charges of fraud and embezzlement. His overseas assets have been frozen and Interpol has issued a warrant for his arrest.

But Pugachev denies any role in the bank's collapse.

Last September he took his case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, demanding $12 billion (11 billion euros) from Moscow which he accused of "stripping" his assets out of vindictiveness.

Pugachev, who has held French citizenship since 2009, also filed suit against Russia in Paris for extortion and organised fraud and a judicial investigation was opened in December 2014.

Last year, a Moscow court ordered him to pay 75.6 billion rubles (around $1 billion) to the bank's former clients over his role in the lender's collapse.

Pugachev immediately appealed to Russia's Supreme Court to quash the ruling, but he lost the appeal in January.

© 2016 AFP

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