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UK arrests wealthy Russian as police target Putin enablers

LONDON — British authorities have arrested a wealthy Russian businessman on suspicion of money laundering, as part of efforts to disrupt potential criminal activities by oligarchs and others linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The National Crime Agency said more than 50 officers from a specialist unit raided the suspect’s multi-million pound London home on Thursday, seizing a number of digital devices and a “significant sum of cash “. The man has not been named.

“The NCA’s Anti-Kleptocracy Cell, created only this year, has had significant success investigating potential criminal activities by oligarchs, the professional service providers who support and enable them, and those linked to the Russian regime. “, the agency’s chief executive, Graeme Biggar, said in a statement. statement on Saturday. “We will continue to use all the powers and tactics at our disposal to disrupt this threat.”

The arrest comes as Britain works with the United States, the European Union and other countries to stifle the flow of money to Putin’s regime following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK has imposed sanctions on more than 1,300 people and entities, including 120 wealthy business leaders known as oligarchs, with global assets estimated at more than 130 billion pounds ($160 billion) , according to the British government.

The businessman targeted in Thursday’s search was arrested on suspicion of money laundering, conspiracy to commit perjury and conspiracy to defraud the Home Office, the government agency responsible for immigration and law enforcement.

A 35-year-old man, who works at the suspect’s residence, was also arrested after he was seen leaving the property with a bag containing thousands of pounds in cash, the agency said. A third man, 39, who is the businessman’s current partner’s former boyfriend, was arrested at his home in Pimlico, west London, on suspicion of offenses including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

The NCA said the operation was part of its efforts to disrupt the activities of corrupt international business figures and their enablers. About 100 operations aimed at eliminating or reducing a criminal threat have been carried out against Putin-linked elites, the agency said.

“The cell has also been investigating and taking quiet action against a significant number of elites who have a direct impact on the UK, as well as targeting less conventional avenues used to mask the movement of significant wealth, such as the sale of ‘high-value assets via auction houses,’ the agency said.

In October, the NCA said it arrested another London-based businessman on suspicion of helping a sanctioned Russian oligarch conceal his ownership of properties in the UK.

The agency said it had worked with law enforcement around the world to ‘target illicit wealth held overseas’, helping them freeze assets including numerous properties, eight yachts and four planes. .

ABC News

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