London to flatten wallets of Russian oligarchs
The new sanctions over the international scandal that started when Sergei Skripal got poisoned could affect whatever real estate Russians have in London.
Theresa May’s team keeps calling for measures that would affect Russian oligarchs settled in London, The Guardian said.
According to the newspaper, Russian businessmen own 1.1 billion pounds’ worth of British apartments and mansions, most of which are located in the capital. The real estate belongs to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, businessmen Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov, Andrei Guriev and Andrei Goncharenko. The article especially focuses on Shuvalov, as the only official on the list. He supposedly owns an 11.400.000-pound apartment in Whitehall Court on the banks of the Thames. The property is declared as “rented”, while FBK found evidence that the legal owner of the real estate is actually controlled by the official himself.
The Guardian found that it is Andrei Guriev that has the biggest amount of London property. The Fosagro founder owns an estimated 350.000.000-pounds’ worth of real estate in Highgate and Vauxhall, in the heart of London. Andrei Goncharenko’s homes are located in three districts of London: Regent's Park, Hampstead and Belgravia. Their total value is estimated at 176.750.000 pounds. Kommersant referred to Goncharenko as deputy general director of Gazprom Invest Yug and a partner of the oligarchs Arkady and Boris Rotenberg. According to media reports, Hanover Lodge worth 120.000.000 pounds is his most expensive property. Roman Abramovich owns a mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens worth 90.000.000 pounds.
The new law on financial crimes could be applied to oligarchs, too. Under the law, the British can now seize property if the owner is unable to explain where the funds to buy it had come from. Note that the businessmen will find it easier to explain their wealth than a civil servant with years in office.
British government agencies can send an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) to a foreign owner of assets in the country, then an Interim Freezing Order and then freeze any suspicious assets exceeding 50.000 pounds (about 71.000 dollars) until the owner explains their source. If the response is implausible, the assets may be confiscated. The new rules apply to "politically significant persons", among which are deputies of various levels, former and current officials and top managers of state-owned enterprises. The law also extends to their assistants and relatives. The investigation may concern their children that are studying in England or family members undergoing treatment there, as well.
As a reminder, - Britain believes Russia to be involved in the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal, since the nerve agent is proved to be the one called Novichok that was created back in the USSR. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied Russia's involvement in the development of the substance, saying that it is the United Kingdom, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden that have been studying the Novichok project from the late 90s to the present time. Russia and the United Kingdom announced mutual expulsion of each other’s diplomatic staff.
Ismail Efendiev is suspected of exceeding authority in connection with the investigation of cases of detained earlier former First Deputy Prime Minister Ramazan Aliyev and nephew of the former head of Dagestan Askhabali Abdulatipov. Searches are being conducted at Efendiev's office and house.
The disappearance of an elderly Muscovite, who owns three rooms on Ostozhenka Street, and her disabled son, worried the neighbors, but the police refused to initiate criminal proceedings on their application. Housing in the elite area of the capital in the meantime was re-registered to a resident of St. Petersburg, who introduced herself as their relative.