As reported on Monday, September 26, during the course of a raid on a palatial villa belonging to the billionaire oligarch Alisher Usmanov, investigators found items estimated to be worth millions of euros. The home is located on Lake Tegernsee in Germany but was been confiscated when he was placed on the list of sanctioned Russians on February 28.
Attorney General Andrea Grape from the Munich II public prosecutor’s office confirmed the findings to br.de. He revealed that 69-year-old Usmanov kept millions of euros in cash in his villa. All of his assets though have been seized, including what are believed to be four authentic Faberge eggs, along with several paintings, jewellery, and an extensive wine cellar.
The authenticity of the eggs has not yet been clarified, but if they are found to be real, they could be worth millions. Faberge eggs are the epitome of the highest art of goldsmithing and a symbol of luxury. In 2007, for example, a copy sold for €12.5 million at the London auction house Christie’s.
Since Usmanow had not declared any of his valuables, the Munich II public prosecutor’s office is investigating the initial suspicion of a criminal offence under Section 18, Paragraph 5b of the Foreign Trade Act. There may be a violation of the duty to notify the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control. If convicted, Usmanov faces a fine or up to a year in prison.
The aim of the raid on September 21 was actually to find evidence of suspected money laundering and tax evasion. According to Spiegel, there are almost 100 money laundering reports from banks against Usmanov. Those investigations are ongoing.
Usmanov is said to have stayed in Rottach-Egern again and again and for a long time. According to insider circles, he was obliged to report his income to the tax office, but did not do so and may have evaded millions in taxes.
The oligarch is considered one of the richest Russians in the world and – despite several denials – a confidante of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A native of Uzbek, he first became wealthy through manufacturing plastic bags and cigarettes. Later, he entered the metal industry and telecommunications, among other things, and invested in the media.
Usmanov’s name appeared in the notorious Panama Papers, according to which he is a shareholder in several offshore companies. Such company constructs make it difficult for the tax authorities to determine due taxes and ownership structures or economic profiteers.
Among other things, his engagement with the London football club Arsenal, which has since ended, is publicly known. The multi-billionaire held around a 30 per cent stake in the club, which he is said to have sold in 2018 for a three-digit million amount.
However, Usmanov was not personally involved in the football club, the shares belonged to Red & White Holding, based on the British tax haven island of Jersey.
At the request of BR and MDR, Usmanov rejected the allegations of tax evasion made against him, claiming that he was a reliable taxpayer. In addition, he personally does not own any real estate in Germany. Rather, the buildings in question belong to family foundations, of which Usmanov is not a beneficiary. He also stated that he had paid market rent in Germany for the use of the properties.
He denies having used shell companies and threatened to use all legal means to defend himself against the accusation of tax evasion. His statement read: “It is clear that the motive behind these actions is a desire to put pressure on an internationally recognised philanthropist and sports patron who is guilty solely of having assets in Russia”.
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