Kuzmichev, the Russian business mogul worth $6.4 billion, was held captive by the French authorities. The office of the French Financial Prosecutors stated on Tuesday about his detention and termed the reason behind it. According to them, his activities were allegedly connected with money laundering, violation of international sanctions, and tax evasion.
The international media organization, “CGTN”, took to their Twitter handle to post about the news of this Russian Oligarch who is now under formal investigation in France for a probe into the allegations of money laundering and tax evasion.
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Kuzmichev’s House Search
A day earlier, on Monday, the French authorities carried out searches at his houses in Paris and in the Mediterranean Var region that was a part of the overall investigation. Till Tuesday, only charges were applied to Alexey Kuzmichev, but the authorities did not impose a detention on him. The raids on Monday involved more than 60 French officers, according to Le Monde, a French daily. Meanwhile, Kuzmichev’s lawyer, Philippe Blanchetier, prefers not to comment on the issue currently.
French law does not indicate a formal investigation as a serious charge or threat that invites a trial here. However, these investigations may imply a high scope of the case where the officials can proceed with an inquiry. These cases can stretch for up to years before expiring or leading to a ‘trial’. Alexey Kuzmichev is worth $6.4 billion (source: Forbes) and is also a co-founder of UK-based LetterOne, an international investment organization.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, reciprocated the news to the state-run news agency TASS and said that his country, Russia, will be able to defend Kuzmichev’s rights once Paris details all the related information about this case. He further stated that Kuzmichev is a Russian citizen and that the Russian authorities are open to protecting his interests if he wishes to do so.
A similar incident happened last year on March 21 when the customs agents of Paris seized Alexey’s 17-meter yacht named “La Petite Ourse II” after the EU sanctioned him for his close ties with President Vladimir Putin. Then, Alexy Kuzmichev was also one of the major shareholders of Russia’s Alfa Bank. He was one of the Russian capitalists who decided to stay in the West after Russia invaded Ukraine last year on 24 February 2022.
However, the French appeals court ruled that the customs officers of France failed to follow the correct steps for the vessel’s onboarding. Prior to this incident, the customs agents captured another yacht of Kuzmichev, “La Petite Ourse” in March 2022 but later released it in October 2022 following the same ruling by the appeals court. Kuzmichev lived in France since the 2000s with his wife and three children.
Petr Olegovich Aven and Alexey Kuzmichev, the two Russian businessmen, did not pay a visit to their homeland since the Russia-Ukraine war, unlike the other oligarchs, German Borisovich Khan and Mikhail Maratovich Fridman, who returned to Moscow following sanctions by the French authorities. The allegations on Kuzmichev come at a time when the world is reeling under a massive war between Israel and Hamas. The countries share their divided opinions, and the UN organizations continue their rescue operations, but one can hardly expect a ceasefire in the region anytime soon.