Exclusive: High Court grants worldwide freeze on assets of the man formerly known as the 'Kremlin's banker'

Sergei Pugachev's Mezhprombank went bust during the global financial crisis, owing hundreds of millions of pounds

The opulent lifestyle of the London broadcaster and writer Alexandra Tolstoy could be feeling the squeeze after the High Court granted a worldwide freezing order on her billionaire lover's assets, The Independent has learned.

A distant relative of the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, the quintessentially English Ms Tolstoy has three children with Sergei Pugachev and lives with him in lavish homes in London and the South of France. Mr Pugachev is a far cry from her previous partner, a penniless Cossack horseman to whom she was briefly married.

Her wealth, she recently claimed, is nearly all down to Mr Pugachev, a former ally of President Vladimir Putin once reportedly known as the “Kremlin's banker”.

Now, Mr Pugachev's empire is collapsing, with his bank, Mezhprombank, going bust during the global financial crisis, owing hundreds of millions of pounds. Ms Tolstoy has claimed that he is the victim of a high level conspiracy in Russia to expropriate his empire.

Mezhprombank's liquidator, the Deposit Insurance Agency has this week been granted a worldwide freezing injunction over £1.17 billion of the 51-year-old businessman's assets including two luxurious London homes and the villa in Nice. That means he cannot sell them or do anything that could diminish their value. It also covers cash in bank accounts, which the injunction bans him from spending.

Alexandra Tolstoy has three children with Sergei Pugachev (Getty) Alexandra Tolstoy has three children with Sergei Pugachev (Getty)
The Deposit Insurance Agency, represented by City lawyers Hogan Lovells alleges Mr Pugachev transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from Mezhprombank to an account at a private bank in Switzerland. It also claims he is “vicariously liable” for the bank's collapse.

The injunction declares: “If you, Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev, disobey this order you may be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized.”

The same potential punishment applies to anybody who assists in breaching the order.

He is still allowed to spend £10,000 a week on his ordinary living expenses plus legal bills.

The Independent has decided not to publish details of the properties under injunction as Ms Tolstoy, whose branch of the famous author's family emigrated to the UK in the 1920s, recently spoke of her fear for the safety of her and her family. However, she has said publicly that one is a £12m house in Battersea that used to belong to the Forbes family.

Ms Tolstoy gave an interview in May in one of her London homes flanked by Russian security guards.

She was educated at Downe House - the Berkshire boarding school where the Duchess of Cambridge briefly attended and studied at Edinburgh university before making the documentary series Horse People with Alexandra Tolstoy. In them, the aristocratically-mannered Ms Tolstoy lived with remote communities of horsemen around the world. It was during a decade of wild travelling around China, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan that she met her first husband, an Uzbek horseman.

A legal row followed their split over the £250,000 Moscow apartment they lived in together, which, along with a cottage in Oxfordshire, she says is the only asset she independently owns.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?