An investigation into Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has been dropped.
In a July court hearing, the businessman claimed a raid by more than 50 officers on his north London mansion in December 2022 was illegal because officers used an unlawfully-obtained search warrant based on false allegations.
Mr Fridman, who was sanctioned by the the US Treasury Department (USTD) last month, said the allegations included claims he funded Russian organised crime, laundered money for Colombian drug cartels and was involved in the murder of two journalists.
Following the raid the businessman was arrested and the NCA announced it had removed “digital devices and a significant quantity of cash”.
But in a statement, the organisation has now announced it is discontinuing its investigation and will take no further action against Mr Fridman, adding: “Inquiries are on-going in relation to associated suspects who fall under the wider investigation.”
The USTD claimed Mr Fridman was a member of a Russian Association of Employers, which is involved in the technology sector of the country’s economy.
The department claim Mr Fridman was a chair of one of its councils, which include those that promote import substitution, technology independence, and technology development the US Treasury claimed.
They also described Mr Fridman and his business associates as “prominent members of Russia’s financial elite”.
Washington says the group has been involved in activities related to Russia’s responses to sanctions imposed on Putin’s regime since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Fridman, who is Ukrainian-born, is also facimg seizure of his assets in Ukraine and has been accused by Kyiv of helping to finance the Russian war effort.
The collapse of the case is a blow to the UK’s efforts to answer critics who allege that Britain is too accommodating to wealthy Russians and that they are taking advantage of the UK’s banking and legal systems.
The NCA said the work of its Combating Kleptocracy Cell (CKC) would continue.
The CKC, set up last year, targets corrupt elites holding their assets in the UK, including individuals closely linked to Russia’s President Putin.
The NCA says the unit has so far been responsible for freezing £11bn of the £18bn Russian assets seized following UK sanctions against Russia. Internationally, it said the NCA’s work assisted in the freezing of properties, eight yachts and four aircraft.
Mr Fridman, who is reputedly worth £8bn, is one of the few Russian oligarchs who has remained in London.