Home North London The oligarch, the Everton owner and the mysterious £2m London house |...

The oligarch, the Everton owner and the mysterious £2m London house | Russia

9

For sanctions to work, governments and law enforcement agencies need to know who owns what. And that is not always an easy task.

Take this luxury home in north London, surrounded by period properties and manicured gardens just five minutes’ walk from Hampstead Heath.

It was bought by the oligarch Alisher Usmanov in 2004 for £2.15m. He was added to the EU sanctions list this month.

Five years later, in October 2009, the tycoon gave the property “not for money” to his longtime associate and now owner of Everton football club, Farhad Moshiri, according to Land Registry documents.

Four months after that, registry documents record Moshiri giving the house to his sister, who owned it for a further four months before raising a mortgage on her new home via the private bank Coutts.

Neither Moshiri nor his sister responded to questions about this series of transactions.

Less than 500 metres away lies another Hampstead home that also demonstrates how close the two businessmen were.

It was also bought by Usmanov, this time in 2011 for £15.8m, according to the Land Registry, although the public is unlikely to have ever have spotted the transaction.

Usmanov appears to have acquired the property anonymously via an Isle of Man company. The island’s corporate registry makes it difficult to discover the individual owners of companies. This firm received a loan from another related company, called Pauillac Property, which was ultimately owned by Usmanov.

The trail was only discovered thanks to documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and seen by the Guardian.

Intriguingly, the Guardian also understands that this house – which is staffed by guards positioned behind security gates – is now the UK home of Moshiri, who was said to be worth £2bn in last year’s Sunday Times Rich List.

Through his spokesperson at the PR firm Finsbury Glover Hering – who, until recently, also worked for Usmanov – Moshiri said he had acquired the offshore company that owns the property from the oligarch in 2014 for “north of £18m”. He added that Usmanov no longer had any interest in either north London property.

The transaction does not appear on the Land Registry – and therefore avoided public scrutiny – because Moshiri acquired the house by buying the offshore company that owns the home from the oligarch.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/22/oligarch-everton-owner-london-house-farhad-moshiri-alisher-usmanov