Assets with a share of 50% or more of Fridman, Aven, Khan, Kuzmichev are blocked
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) has included Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, entrepreneurs and founders of Alfa Group, as well as German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, on the SDN list. This follows from the control message.
In addition to businessmen, the United States also imposed sanctions against the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).
The explanation of the US Department of the Treasury says that entrepreneurs fell under sanctions, as they were members of the supervisory board of the Alfa Group consortium. They recalled that Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and the United Kingdom had previously imposed sanctions on them.
Aven was listed as the chairman of the board of a Russian insurance company and a former member of the supervisory board of Alfa Group for his work in the financial services sector. On a similar basis, the list included the group’s founder and former chairman of the Supervisory Board Fridman, who “continues to participate in the activities of the conglomerate.” In addition, he leads the RSPP committee and acts on behalf of the organization, the report says.
The imposition of US sanctions against the businessman, the former head of the board of directors of Alfa-Bank Petr Aven (Forbes estimates his fortune at $4.2 billion), is a signal for the Latvian competent authorities as part of the verification of the validity of his obtaining Latvian citizenship, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said.
“The decision of the OFAC of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury]on sanctions against P. Aven is another important signal for responsible Latvian institutions in assessing the validity of citizenship,” he wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) page.
Aven received Latvian citizenship in 2016 (his grandfather was Latvian). In February of this year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Latvia stated that the Latvian special services were studying the grounds for the possible deprivation of citizenship by an entrepreneur. In 2022, the Ministry of Justice of Latvia urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs “not to delay” making a decision on this issue. A Forbes source close to Aven said that the story of the check has been going on “for quite a long time” and the entrepreneur does not see any risks of depriving him of his Latvian passport.
The reason for including Khan in the list was that he is a member of the Supervisory Board, and also acts as the founder of a construction company. Kuzmichev is a member of the Supervisory Board and heads a Russian investment company, thus working in the financial services sector of the Russian economy.
Russian billionaire, co-founder of the investment group LetterOne German Khan, who fell under the sanctions of the UK and the European Union, was forced to leave London, where he lived for about 10 years, and went to Moscow. Bloomberg writes about this, citing sources.
Khan now lives in Moscow, managing Alfa Group’s Russian assets from his office in the city’s financial district. He receives money to support his lifestyle from his business in the country, which includes stakes in X5, the country’s largest supermarket chain, and mobile phone company Vimpelcom Ltd. In March, Khan and his partners Petr Aven, Mikhail Fridman and Alexei Kuzmichev stepped down from LetterOne’s board of directors. All of them, except Khan, remain abroad, writes Bloomberg.
OFAC noted that the investment company LetterOne was not sanctioned, since, according to the management, the blocked persons in the organization do not own 50% or more. It was previously reported that Friedman and Aven left the company after the sanctions. Being on the SDN list involves blocking all property of persons located in the United States, as well as organizations in which they directly or indirectly own 50% or more. All transactions related to any property or interests of these persons are prohibited unless specifically licensed by OFAC.
In May, Vedomosti wrote that the Luxembourg ABH Holdings of Fridman and his business partners in Alfa Group, in addition to Alfa Bank, would also sell Alfastrakhovanie. A company representative confirmed the change of ownership. He clarified that it was “exclusively” about the restructuring of ownership, and not about the sale of the company to third-party buyers. “The current situation is forcing foreign companies with assets in Russian jurisdiction to redomiciliate, and this has been discussed for a very long time,” the source recalled.
The fact that Fridman and Aven plan to withdraw from the shareholders of Alfa-Bank, whose supervisory board they left in March 2022 after EU sanctions, became known in the spring. As a result of the transaction, their shares may be transferred to Alfa’s business partner Andrey Kosogov. The bank itself is also under blocking sanctions from the US, UK and EU.
A representative of Alfa-Bank told Vedomosti that the sanctions imposed by the United States against entrepreneurs do not affect the activities of the credit institution. “We are working as usual,” the source said.
After falling under Western sanctions, Fridman also left the board of directors of Veon (still owns Vimpelcom) and the supervisory board of retailer X5 Group.
Fridman, as of August 11, ranks ninth in the ranking of the richest businessmen in Russia: his fortune is estimated at $ 12.6 billion, follows from the Forbes Real-Time rating, which is updated in real time depending on quotes. Herman Khan’s fortune is estimated at $8.2 billion, Kuzmichev at $6.4 billion, Aven at $4.2 billion.
Friedman is also under the sanctions of the UK, the European Union and a number of other countries. In the UK, he was suspected of evading sanctions; in December 2022, searches were carried out in his house in London, Bloomberg wrote. Friedman’s defense called the grounds for the search compromising evidence. Friedman denies any sanctions evasion on his part. Friedman challenged the EU sanctions in court. In mid-July, the Ukrainian government nationalized the local Sense Bank, formerly Alfa-Bank Ukraine, co-owned by Fridman and Aven. Prior to this, the National Bank of Ukraine withdrew the bank from the market and introduced temporary administration in it.