German investigators on Wednesday raided properties belonging to a Russian oligarch suspected of tax evasion and breaking EU sanctions, police and prosecutors said, with sources naming billionaire Alisher Usmanov as the target.
The searches focused on two properties belonging to a 69-year-old Russian businessman in the Bavarian district of Miesbach, the BKA federal police said in a statement.
Police did not name the suspect, but sources close to the investigation told AFP that it was Usmanov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former president of the International Fencing Federation.
Between 2017 and 2022, the suspect is accused of funnelling several million euros acquired as part of illegal activities, including tax evasion, through an “extensive and complex network of companies and corporations” to conceal their origin, the BKA said.
Around 250 officers were involved in the raids, with the alleged tax evasion amounting to 550 million euros ($545 million), according to a report in Der Spiegel magazine.
The operation targeted a total of 24 properties belonging to the Russian oligarch and four other people, according to prosecutors in Munich.
The Russian suspect is also accused of using funds frozen under EU sanctions to pay for properties to be monitored by a security company, according to the Munich prosecutors.
The four others are suspected of providing the surveillance services and enabling or receiving payment for them.
German media reported earlier this year that authorities had seized the “Dilbar”, the world’s biggest yacht by tonnage owned by Usmanov.
The yacht had been docked in a Hamburg shipyard since October 2021 for repairs.
Usmanov was ranked at number six in the Sunday Times list of the world’s richest people in 2021.
He is one of dozens of Russian billionaires hit by Western sanctions following the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
Usmanov is currently believed to be residing in Uzbekistan, according to Der Spiegel.