Alisher Usmanov: Police raid villas tied to former Arsenal FC shareholder amid money-laundering probe

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German police have raided a lakeside villa tied to Russian-Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov in a bid to seize evidence of tax evasion.

The raid on Wednesday morning follows investigations into money-laundering and violations of EU sanctions by Mr Usmanov.

More than 250 officers searched an abandoned villa on Tegernsee lake in the southeast state of Bavaria before going on to raid several properties registered to the oligarch across three states and Hamburg.

The 69-year-old has been on the Western sanctions list following Russia's invasion of Ukraine from 24 February this year.

The oligarch has a net worth of $14.6bn (£12.8bn), according to Forbes.

He is an early Facebook investor, a former shareholder in Arsenal football club and gained his wealth from mining and sports.

The raids are believed to have targeted a Russian businessman suspected of having used his "extensive and complex network of companies and corporations" to conceal origins of transactions dated between 2017 and 2022, the prosecutor general's office in Frankfurt said.

The transactions, that have not been named as Mr Usmanov's, are believed to have added up to a multi-digit-million-euro sum, the prosecutor general added.

The prosecutor suspects that Mr Usmanov may have paid a security firm to observe properties in Upper Bavaria - a payment that would have flouted the sanction list ban on the use of frozen funds.

The heads of the security company and the guards are now under investigation.

A 156-metre-long yacht, the Dilbar, owned by Mr Usmanov's sister, was towed from the port of Hamburg to Bremen overnight, according to the NDR broadcaster.

The half a billion euros (£458m) yacht is also subject to sanctions.

Since the Russia-Ukraine war commenced, Germany alone has frozen at least 4.88bn euros of assets, Der Spiegel has reported.

German police continue to investigate Mr Usmanov's finances.

A spokesperson for Mr Usmanov said the majority of his income - up to 75% - has either been donated to charity or gone on taxes.

They added that during the period in question in the investigation, he has been paying taxes at the location of his main portfolio investments - in Russia - and that this excluded the need to repay taxes on income in Germany.

Mr Usmanov has been a citizen of Uzbekistan since 2018, the spokesperson added, and has spent most of his time in that country, visiting Germany only occasionally primarily for medical reasons.

He does not own any real estate property in Germany, and the properties concerned in the investigation are held in family trusts to which he is not a beneficiary, the spokesperson said.

"Any allegations of tax evasion by Mr Usmanov are unfounded, false and damaging to his honour, dignity and reputation, which Mr Usmanov will defend by all disposable legal means," they said.