Friday 2 December 2016

Lawyer says gardaí 'not Putin's lapdogs' in probe over €100m

Published 25/11/2016 | 02:30

Lawyer: Michael McDowell SC Picture: Tom Burke
Lawyer: Michael McDowell SC Picture: Tom Burke

Lawyers for An Garda Síochána have denied the force are acting as "lapdogs" for Russian president Vladimir Putin by pursuing a money laundering investigation against a former oligarch.

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Michael McDowell SC said gardaí were "acting in good faith" in their probe into the source of over €100m held in Irish-based trusts by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Mr McDowell said fraud squad detectives were trying to establish if there were links between the funds and crimes for which Mr Khodorkovsky was jailed in Russia.

But lawyers for Mr Khodorkovsky say his convictions have been "utterly discredited" as politically motivated and the funds at issue were obtained legally. The former billionaire, who now lives in London, is seeking to have freezing orders on the assets lifted.

These have been renewed every 28 days since 2011 by way of application by gardaí at Dublin District Court.

Mr McDowell said the freeze should not be lifted while gardaí are pursuing inquiries in a number of jurisdictions.

He rejected earlier claims by Remy Farrell SC, for Mr Khodorkovsky, that there "should be a sense of national shame" about the behaviour of gardaí in the matter.

"The gardaí are not Mr Putin's lapdogs and the DPP will not be Mr Putin's lapdog," Mr McDowell said.

Mr Farrell said gardaí had yet to seek to interview his client, but this was disputed by Mr McDowell, who said he was instructed Mr Khodorkovsky had declined a request unless he could be assured he would not be arrested.

A ruling on the dispute is expected next month.

Irish Independent

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