Sanctioned billionaire Fridman, who recently left London, continues to challenge legal authorities in court, asserting that residing in the UK amidst sanctions is unmanageable.
Attorneys representing the tycoon, who is currently under sanctions have reported that government officials have declined their requests for granting further permits, specifically relating to management payments for his luxurious London residence and financial allocations to support a personal chauffeur for the tycoon. These rejected requests would have resulted in Sanctioned billionaire Fridman’s increased dependence on public transportation for his commuting needs.
The sanctioned tycoon, whose identity and specific circumstances remain undisclosed in the provided information, is facing challenges in obtaining additional authorizations from the government. These requests were aimed at facilitating his ongoing lifestyle and maintaining a certain level of convenience, despite the imposed sanctions.
The management payments sought for the London mansion were likely intended to cover various expenses associated with the upkeep and maintenance of the opulent property. By denying these permits, government officials are effectively making it more challenging for the tycoon to ensure the property remains in pristine condition and meets the high standards expected of such estates.
Similarly, the request for funds to support a personal driver signifies the tycoon’s desire to retain a certain degree of mobility and independence. With these funds, he would have continued to enjoy private transportation services. However, due to the government’s refusal to grant this request, he is now compelled to rely on the public transportation system for his commuting needs.
Sanctioned billionaire Fridman relocated to Israel in early October, just before the attack carried out by Hamas militants in the country. Subsequently, he was compelled to seek refuge in Moscow. According to his legal representatives, on Tuesday they confirmed his intention to eventually return to the United Kingdom.
The billionaire, who possesses Israeli and Russian nationalities, established and owns the majority of shares in Alfa Group, encompassing the largest private bank in Russia. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, both the European Union and the United Kingdom enforced sanctions on Sanctioned billionaire Fridman and his associates. In August, while he was residing in London, the United States also imposed sanctions on him.
The billionaire has effectively navigated several legal battles in the UK, leading to the discontinuation of a police investigation into alleged sanctions evasion after a well-publicized raid on his residence. Additionally, authorities have revised his sanctions designation, no longer identifying him as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch.” Instead, he is now categorized based on his previous positions at Alfa Bank Russia.
The Tuesday hearing aims to question the UK Treasury officials’ decision to reject requests for licenses for a monthly management fee of £30,000 (equivalent to RM174,124), along with payments for internal phone lines, audio, TV equipment, and staff expenses. In a legal submission for the Tuesday hearing, it was mentioned that the billionaire experienced a “security incident” in September, but no additional information is currently available.
Rachel Barnes, the attorney representing sanctioned billionaire Fridman, expressed that the asset freezing measures create an excessively strict system of financial limitations and constraints.
The United Kingdom declined a payment request for a staff driver by arguing that the defendant has the capability to use public transportation, as Barnes pointed out.
Malcolm Birdling, a government lawyer, stated that the UK has already approved payments totaling approximately £1 million to support sanctioned billionaire Fridman’s essential expenses. However, he expressed some reservations about certain expenditures at the edges of those needs.
Birdling stated that the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation declined further staff payments, which would have allowed sanctioned billionaire Fridman to maintain his lifestyle before he was subjected to sanctions. Any management fees would essentially constitute a payment to Mr. Fridman’s assistant, Nigina Zairova, who is herself under sanctions.
In addition, the UK also refused to release funds for audio and TV expenses because sanctioned billionaire Fridman did not provide adequate information regarding the breakdown of charges between entertainment and security costs, according to their statement.
The billionaire initially relocated to London in 2013 following the sale of his stake in TNK-BP, alongside his partners, to the Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, resulting in a substantial profit of US$14 billion (RM66.08 billion).