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Billionaire Russian oligarch sanctioned in UK complains he has to eat at home after credit cards blocked

He ranked as the 128th richest person in the world last year

Emily Atkinson
Monday 28 March 2022 15:37 BST
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Russian businessman, co-founder of Alfa-Group Mikhail Fridman in Moscow, Russia
Russian businessman, co-founder of Alfa-Group Mikhail Fridman in Moscow, Russia (REUTERS)

A Russian oligarch hit with UK sanctions has complained about being confined to eating at his multimillion pound home in north London while living “practically under house arrest.”

Ukrainian-born Mikhail Fridman, who in 2021 had a fortune of £9.3 billion, alleged he can no longer afford to dine out in restaurants after his credit cards were blocked by British authorities - instead being forced to take his meals at his large Victorian house in Highgate.

In April 2016, The Times reported that he purchased the property, set on the northern edge of Hampstead Heath, for £65 million.

Fridman told the daily Spanish newspaper El Pais: “The authorities in the UK should give me a certain amount so I can go in a taxi and buy food, but it will be a very limited amount in relation to the cost of living in London.“

“I can’t even pay in a restaurant. I have to eat at home and I am practically under house arrest.”

The exterior of Athlone House, a property owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman (Getty Images)

Mr Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men, co-founded both the private equity firm LetterOne and Alfa Group, a multinational Russian conglomerate. He also ranked as the 128th richest person in the world last year.

He was forced to step down as director of LetterOne earlier this month after the EU froze some €20 billion worth of shares in the conglomerate, which owns Holland & Barrett among other key companies in Europe.

The 57-year-old said he thought sanctioning Russian oligarchs was counterproductive as it would only make them return to Russia, adding it was “idiotic” to think they could discourage Vladimir Putin from continuing with his ferocious military operation in Ukraine.

“The people who have been sanctioned will have to return to Russia, where they will have no choice but to be absolutely loyal, and where they will continue to work, because they are energetic, brilliant and talented people, and they will start businesses and create jobs,” Mr Fridman said.

He added: “I’ve been in London for eight years, I’ve invested billions of dollars in Britain and other European countries and the answer to this is that they confiscate everything and throw me out.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t be deterred by sanctions, the oligarch says (AP)

On the 28 February, just four days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Mr Fridman openly denounced Moscow and called for the “bloodshed” to end.

In an email to his staff at London-based LetterOne, the billionaire, who rarely comments on political events, wrote that “war can never be the answer”, theFinancial Times reported.

“I do not make political statements, I am a businessman with responsibilities to my many thousands of employees in Russia and Ukraine. I am convinced however that war can never be the answer. This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years,” Mr Fridman wrote.

“While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end. I’m sure my partners share my view,” he added.

The business tycoon said he spent the first 17 years of his life in Ukraine, adding that his parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in the city of Lviv. He mentioned that he felt deeply attached to people on both sides of the border and said the current conflict would be a “tragedy” for both.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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