An investigation into the alleged evasion of sanctions against a Russian billionaire has been dropped by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Last year more than 50 officers descended on Mikhail Fridman’s £65 million north London home to conduct a raid.
The 59 year-old businessman was arrested, and the NCA confirmed that it had removed “digital devices and a significant quantity of cash.”
However last night the NCA said that it was discontinuing its investigation.
A statement said: “The NCA can confirm that it will take no further action against Mr Fridman, based on the warrant executed at Athlone House in December 2022.
“Inquiries are ongoing in relation to associated suspects who fall under the wider investigation.”
Mr Fridman was the most high-profile target of a new unit targeting wealthy Russians that was set up after the invasion of Ukraine.
Warrant contained ‘technical errors’
The raid, made in December last year, was publicised across social media with a statement and a picture of officers inside the tycoon’s home.
Mr Fridman is one of Russia’s most prominent businessmen after making billions in banking, oil and retail.
The NCA launched its “combating kleptocracy cell” with a mission to target those who are considered to have proximity to Vladimir Putin and his regime.
The agency had been investigating Fridman for an alleged loan payment from his Alfa Bank to his executive assistant before he was sanctioned. It had already accepted that the search warrant contained “technical errors.”
At a court hearing in July, Mr Fridman claimed that the raid was illegal and relied on “kompromat”, including a 15-year-old report that made a series of unproven criminal allegations.
Mr Fridman declined to comment on the NCA’s decision.
Last month it was revealed that Britain had granted Mr Fridman a licence to pay for 19 members of staff including private chefs.
‘Most severe package of sanctions ever’
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, more than 130 oligarchs with a combined net worth of more than £145 billion have been sanctioned by the Government.
The Foreign Office said that Britain had “implemented the most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy”.
However, despite the asset freezes on some of Russia’s wealthiest, Mr Fridman, a banking tycoon, was granted a licence to employ drivers, housekeepers and handymen, alongside his private chefs, during the first year of the war.
During the course of 10 months the payments amounted to £300,000, according to documents seen by The New York Times.
Mr Fridman, described by the Government as a pro-Kremlin oligarch, also received a monthly allowance of about £7,000 to cover his family’s basic needs.
Mr Fridman told the High Court on Thursday that the NCA had raided his family home last year with an unlawfully obtained search warrant, with his lawyers arguing that the warrant was based on false allegations.