Wednesday 28 June 2017

Gardaí will not renew order freezing €20m fund

Former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Photo: Reuters
Former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Photo: Reuters
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Gardaí have decided not to seek the renewal of freezing orders on a €20m fund linked to former shareholders in Russian oil firm Yukos.

The move comes after a court decided last week to overturn a similar order made in respect of a different Irish-based fund, worth €100m, owned by former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The €20m is said to belong to businessman Platon Lebedev and five others, all former associates of Mr Khodorkovsky.

Both men spent time in prison in Russia for embezzlement and money laundering, but the charges were widely regarded as politically motivated.

Mr Khodorkovsky is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's foremost critics.

Gardaí had been renewing freezing orders on both funds every 28 days since March 2011 as they conducted an investigation to ascertain if the assets were connected to money laundering. But Judge Timothy Lucey ruled last week that gardaí had not shown there were reasonable grounds for maintaining the order in respect of Mr Khodorkovsy's fund.

Afterwards, Sean Gillane SC, for Saffery Champness, the trustee of both funds, asked the judge that his ruling should also apply to the money in the second trust.

While Judge Lucey did not extend the ruling to the second trust, gardaí did not seek to renew the freezing order yesterday when it was due to lapse.

It means Mr Lebedev and his associates can get access to the fund.

Irish Independent

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