Spanish authorities suspect Mikhail Fridman of illegal seizure of company
According to the Spanish Prosecutor's Office, the Russian billionaire achieved “financial strangulation” of the Zed WorldWide technology group and acquired it at a price much lower than the market.
Spanish authorities suspect co-owner of Alfa Grupp Mikhail Fridman of illegal seizure of the Zed WorldWide technology group, local media report. Anti-corruption prosecutor Jose Grinda asked to summon the Russian billionaire to the Central Investigation Court No. 6 to testify as a suspect.
The prosecution believes that as a shareholder and creditor of Zed, Fridman achieved “financial strangulation” of Zed and later acquired it for €20 million, which was well below the company's market value.
Russian shareholders began joining Zed in 2008. In the period from 2009 to 2013, almost half (43%) of the technology group’s revenue was secured by revenues from holding structures controlled by Fridman. In 2013, the Spanish company attracted a loan from a group of banks led by ING. Among the lenders was the Dutch branch of Alfa Bank, Amsterdam Trade Bank NV, which provided a loan of $18.6 million. Having become one of the main creditors of the company, Fridman received a “privileged position” in all of its decisions.
Prosecutor Jose Grinda believes that the network of companies controlled by Fridman carried out an illegal seizure of Zed, El Pais reports. According to the prosecution, during corporate maneuvers, fraud was committed to change the value, fraudulent management, and intentional bankruptcy of Zed. Allegedly, the actions of the Spanish technology group’s Russian partners led to its “complete lack of liquidity,” which led to bankruptcy. The prosecutor attributes Fridman a “fundamental role” in the takeover maneuvers of the Spanish company based on statements made by Executive Director Anton Kudryashov to the US authorities and an audit of PriceWaterhouseCoopers conducted in 2013.
According to El Periodico, the letter summoning Fridman was sent to court on August 1. The publication also reports that one of the Spanish companies, of which Zed is a shareholder, could pay money to the relatives of one of the members of Vladimir Putin's government. The letter mentions a meeting on February 8, 2013 between one of Fridman's representatives and the son of Head of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, during which they discussed “a company in which the latter had economic interests.”
Mikhail Fridman is also a shareholder of the Spanish retailer DIA, the Malyuta Skuratov Telegram channel notes. In the spring of 2019, the European Commission allowed its structure to acquire all 100% of the company. In May, the Russian billionaire increased his stake in the DIA from 29% to 70%.