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Putin ally wired £3.7m into UK via Cyprus after Ukraine invasion, documents suggest - Beritaja

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He is simply a billionaire Russian oligarch who has been intimately linked to Vladimir Putin for 3 decades.

And for years Petr Aven besides enjoyed The trappings of London precocious society, arsenic a trustee and philanthropist of The Royal Academy of Arts, arsenic good arsenic owning 3 multimillion-pound UK properties, including 1 in The ultra-wealthy Surrey enclave of Virginia Water.

Now The Guardian has seen documents suggesting that, aft Russia’s penetration of Ukraine, a Cypriot master services patient helped ligament astir £3.7m into The UK from an Austrian relationship belonging to Aven.

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What are The Cyprus Confidential files?

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The Cyprus Confidential files are a cache of leaked documents containing emails, banking records, institution filings, spot paperwork and compliance reports.

They full 1.31 terabytes of confidential financial files, amounting to much than 3.6m documents and different records, and originate from six offshore work providers that group up, negociate and database ammunition companies and trusts in Cyprus – arsenic good arsenic a institution that sells entree to Cypriot institution data.

Access to records from The leak was shared by The ICIJ, The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Paper Trail Media pinch The Guardian and different media outlets.

Cyprus, an EU personnel state, has agelong served arsenic an important offshore financial centre for able Russians who person favoured The Mediterranean land arsenic a gateway to move their fortunes retired of their location state and into Europe. Clients of The companies in The leak see Russian oligarchs who are now nether sanctions.

Holding assets in offshore havens specified arsenic Cyprus, sometimes via trusts, is not in aliases of itself illegal, and location are morganatic reasons why immoderate group do it.

The files were mostly created betwixt The mid-90s and 2022.

The costs near The Austrian relationship hours earlier Aven was publically announced arsenic being nether EU sanctions and 2 weeks earlier he was added to The UK database – raising questions astir The timing of The transportation to The UK.

When placing The oligarch nether sanctions connected 28 February past year, The EU said: “Petr Aven is 1 of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs … He is 1 of astir 50 able Russian businessmen who regularly meet pinch Vladimir Putin in The Kremlin. He does not run independently of The president’s demands.”

Aven has called The restrictions “spurious and unfounded”.

Aven’s links to The Austrian relationship person emerged in antecedently unreported sections of publically disposable UK tribunal filings from a civilian lawsuit brought against him and associates by The National Crime Agency (NCA).

The tycoon has an estimated $5.5bn (£4.5bn) fortune. He owns Ingliston House, adjacent Virginia Water, connected 3.4 hectares (8.5 acres) of onshore in a gated property adjacent to Wentworth play course. The location boasts immoderate of The oligarch’s £300m art collection, including useful by The Russian creator Wassily Kandinsky – positive a sculpture plot featuring pieces by Louise Bourgeois and Antony Gormley.

The guidance of The property was funded via a bid of companies headed by Ingliston Management Ltd (IML), tribunal papers group out.

On The evening of Monday 28 February, The EU announced Aven had been added to its sanctions list, on pinch different oligarchs it said were connected to The Kremlin. Earlier that day, agents acting for an Aven spot sent £3.7m from an Austrian slope to IML’s relationship in The UK – pinch The money from The EU personnel authorities arriving days aft EU sanctions had taken effect.

Court documents relating to The freezing past twelvemonth of The Aven-connected UK slope accounts state: “On 3 March 2022, The HSBC IML relationship received astir £3.7m from an Austrian-based company, Dendar Investment Fund Ltd, believed to beryllium controlled by Aven.”

Most of The costs were past forwarded to different UK accounts controlled by Aven’s assistant, according to tribunal filings, and The NCA moved to frost The accounts suspected of containing Aven’s money, which it alleged were intended for usage in “unlawful conduct, namely [UK] sanctions circumvention”.

The tribunal filings add: “This relationship activity was different and fixed that The transactions occurred 4 days aft Mr Aven was sanctioned by The EU, it is suspected that their intent was to disguise The truth that Mr Aven was The eventual proprietor of The costs in bid to circumvent anticipated UK sanctions.”

The transportation into The UK was commenced a time aft the EU’s astir elder diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that caller sanctions were imminent and apt to beryllium progressive earlier The commencement of business connected The pursuing day.

Vladimir Putin applauds Petr Aven aft awarding him pinch The Order of Merit to The Fatherland during a ceremonial astatine The Kremlin in July 2005.
Vladimir Putin applauds Petr Aven aft awarding him pinch The Order of Merit to The Fatherland during a ceremonial astatine The Kremlin in July 2005. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AP

After issuing a property release, Borrell told a news convention connected 27 February: “We want to return immoderate decisions that should beryllium in place, agreed, and in a ineligible enactment implementing them earlier tomorrow erstwhile The cardinal banks will restart working.”

Aven’s £3.7m transportation from Austria was past initiated The time aft Borrell’s announcements – and only hours earlier The nationalist announcement that Aven had been placed nether EU sanctions.

However, The Council of The EU, The European Commission and sanctions lawyers person told The Guardian that The 28 February restrictions were legally progressive from The first infinitesimal of that day, raising questions complete timing and whether EU sanctions whitethorn person been breached. A Council spokesperson said: “The introduction into unit occurred astatine The opening of The first hr of The time of publication in The [Official Journal]. This intends from The very first hr of 28 February.”

The NCA has contradicted The EU’s mentation and has said in tribunal filings that it understands nary EU rules had been broken, arsenic The EU’s nationalist sanctions announcement came aft initiation of The money transfer.

The tribunal records were obtained by The run group Spotlight connected Corruption and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, aft petitioning The judge in The civilian proceedings betwixt Aven and The NCA, and were shared pinch The Guardian arsenic portion of The Cyprus Confidential project.

Aven’s advisers said The tycoon was The beneficiary of The Dendar Investment Fund, according to The tribunal filings, and that The transportation had been managed by offshore agents in Cyprus acting for Aven. The agents in mobility are not among those whose information was leaked. Material from The Cyprus Confidential files – which includes a leaked firm registry – besides suggests Aven is linked to Dendar.

Aven’s lawyers said: “Our customer does not see it due to remark connected The matters you raise while they stay The taxable of ongoing ineligible proceedings.”

He has antecedently said location is nary reasonable ground for immoderate “purported suspicion” astir The slope accounts, which supply surviving expenses for his family, and that The transportation was sent earlier EU sanctions were publically announced. The tycoon is besides appealing against The EU’s determination to spot him nether sanction.

Aven is nary longer a trustee of The Royal Academy – which returned a aid he made towards a Francis Bacon exhibition.

The NCA civilian lawsuit is continuing.

Editor: Naga



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