On the morning of October 30, French police detained Alexei Kuzmichev, co-owner of the Russian investment conglomerate Alpha Group, on suspicion of money laundering, tax evasion, and violations of European sanctions, reports the newspaper Le Monde .
Search warrant were executed at his residence in central Paris and his villa in Saint-Tropez. Unconfirmed reports suggest that bundles of money were found at the oligarch's villa. The total amount has not been disclosed.
Le Monde does not elaborate on the reasons for his arrest, but notes that "this is one of the most serious blows dealt by the French judiciary to a Russian oligarch since the invasion of Ukraine". The businessman is considered to be close to Putin.
The newspaper points out that European sanctions prohibit sanctioned individuals from entering the EU territory. Nevertheless, a source close to the oligarch stated that Kuzmichev was already in France when he was included in the sanctions list, which supposedly exempts him from being considered a violator. Furthermore, his family is also in France.
Representatives of Kuzmichev have not commented on the information from the French media.
In 2022, Russian newspaper Forbes ranked Kuzmichev 20th on the country's billionaires list.
Since March 15, 2022, the businessman has been under EU sanctions, but he left Russia after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
If detained co-founder of "Alpha Group" Aleksey Kuzmichev wishes, Russia may assist in "protecting his rights," said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to the Russian president.
To do this, the Russian authorities need to "obtain information" through the diplomatic representation of Russia in France. After that, if the detainee wishes, he will receive legal assistance.