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Russian billionaire Aven battles UK sanctions investigation

Britain is investigating Russian billionaire Petr Aven (pictured), for allegedly violating the sanctions. A British lawyer claimed that he used money from British accounts to “squirrel cash” to fund his lifestyle.

Jonathan Hall, representing the National Crime Agency (NCA), said that HSBC and HSBA.L. raised red flags about fund transfers during an NCA investigation of nine accounts owned and controlled by six individuals and companies connected to Aven.

Hall stated that he believed the funds received were for sanctions evasion.

According to the NCA Aven was sanctioned both by Britain and the European Union for his actions as a retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. To manage his expenses and avoid sanctions, he planned to use two companies.


Two companies and Aven lawyers demand that two Account Freezing Orders are canceled due to the NCA’s “chaotic, unpredictable” approach. They claim there is no evidence to support any “purported suspicion” of the agency, or that it misled the judge.

This case is the first to evaluate the effectiveness of Britain’s approach to sanctions enforcement. This case involves Aven basic expenses and a decision of another court to allow Aven to pay them after he claimed that he did not have the funds to pay his household bills.

To target those suspected of being in the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the NCA created a unit called Combating Kleptocracy Cell. The other court is appealing the decision.


After identifying unusual spending patterns, and a payment in excess of 200,000 pounds to a luxury vehicle dealer, the agency froze PS1.5 million ($1.6m), in suspected criminal proceeds in May.

Helen Taylor, Spotlight on Corruption legal researcher, stated that this first major case of sanctions fraud will determine the strategy for the NCA moving forward and that any setback could seriously hamper future efforts.

($1 = PS0.9341)

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